Late goal treats Dutch with victory over Argentina Score by Bergkamp in 90th minute sends Holland to semis, 2-1

World Cup

July 05, 1998|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

MARSEILLE, France -- When Dutch defender Arthur Numan was ejected for getting a second yellow card in the 72nd minute of his team's World Cup quarterfinal match against Argentina yesterday, his teammates took it with surprising stoicism, given the circumstances.

"It was not in our favor, of course," midfielder Ronald de Boer said. "I thought our chances were a little bit low. I thought if we can reach penalties, it's a 50-50 chance."

Their chances improved when Argentine midfielder Ariel Ortega was ejected for foolishly head-butting Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar in the 87th minute after not getting a penalty kick Ortega thought he deserved for being tripped by Jaap Stam. And thanks to a brilliant bit of footwork by Dennis Bergkamp three minutes later, they beat the odds and beat Argentina, 2-1, to reach the semifinals for the first time since 1978.

Bergkamp took a long pass from Frank de Boer and embarrassed defender Roberto Ayala by taking the ball around him and getting into position for an uncontested shot on Carlos Roa as the crowd of 55,000 at the Stade Velodrome gasped in disbelief. Bergkamp perfectly placed a shot into the upper-left corner of the net for his third goal of the tournament -- and one of the biggest goals in the history of a nation whose soccer fortunes have declined from the great heights they reached a generation ago, when the Netherlands reached the World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978.

"I knew if we kept the pressure on their defense something good would come from it, and it did," said Bergkamp, who has shown no signs of the hamstring pull that kept him out of the starting lineup in Holland's tournament opener.

"I thought as the ball was coming I had a chance for it. It was sent to me in just the right place."

It was heaven sent for the Dutch, who will face Brazil on Tuesday in Marseille.

The countries last met in the 1994 World Cup quarterfinals, a memorable match won by Brazil, 3-2.

Yesterday's game was superb, a showcase of skills without the negative defensive tactics that have been popular in this tournament. Perhaps only Argentina's residual fatigue from having played 120 minutes plus penalty kicks to settle its splendid round-of-16 match against England on Tuesday kept it from being a classic.

"We were very tired after the game against England at Saint-Etienne and in the second half they had a little more control than us," said Argentine coach Daniel Passarella, who had said before the tournament he will not return as coach. "We were forced to go a little bit back and attack less."

The first half could hardly have been more equal. Each team hit the post once -- Wim Jonk for the Netherlands in the sixth minute and Ortega for Argentina in the 38th minute -- and each scored once.

Patrick Kluivert gave the Netherlands the lead after a fine run by Ronald de Boer -- Frank's identical twin -- culminated with de Boer's pass to Bergkamp. He headed the ball to Kluivert on the right side for a rolling shot that eluded Roa in the 12th minute.

Argentina matched that five minutes later on a play orchestrated by Juan Veron, perhaps Argentina's most consistent and best player in the tournament. Veron's pass put Claudio Lopez in alone on van der Sar, and the speedy Argentine forward won the battle with a left-footed shot after he faked van der Sar to the ground.

"The most important thing now is we don't become satisfied with third or fourth place," Ronald de Boer said. "We have a good chance to beat Brazil. We're one of the best four teams in the world. I've said it before. Now we can make it through and we can go all the way."

Netherlands 1 1 -- 2

Argentina 1 0 -- 1

Pub Date: 7/05/98

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