Bergkamp gives Given little hope

Netherlands 3 Republic of Ireland 1
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The Independent Online
Dennis Bergkamp led the Dutch to a morale-boosting victory last night in their final warm-up match before Euro 96.

The Scotland manager, Craig Brown, whose team play the Netherlands on Monday, and Ted Buxton, the England scout, were interested spectators in Rotterdam as Mick McCarthy's young team took an early lead.

Ireland had withstood almost constant Dutch pressure before Gary Breen scored in the 13th minute. After Tony Cascarino forced a corner with a shot that bounced behind off Michael Reiziger, the Dutch could only half clear. Alan Kernaghan delivered a telling cross from the right, and Breen, winning only his third cap, was left unmarked to put a header behind Edwin van der Sar.

The time that Kernaghan, the captain for the night, was allowed to make his cross showed how much the Dutch defence was missing the influential Frank de Boer, who injured his right ankle in training on Monday and will miss the European Championship. Jaap Stam of PSV Eindhoven, 23 years old and capped once, has been called up to replace De Boer.

Breen's goal stung the Dutch and they pieced together a jigsaw of moves with even more precision than before.

Given blocked efforts by Clarence Seedorf and Jordi Cruyff, but was beaten by a magnificent piece of opportunism from Bergkamp, who equalised in the 27th minute with a perfectly-judged lob from 20 yards.

Despite the inexperience of McCarthy's team, it was not until the second half that Bergkamp set up goals for Seedorf and Phillip Cocu.

Seedorf was freed by Bergkamp's pass over Ireland's static defence in the 77th minute. Bringing the bouncing ball skillfully under control, Seedorf then drove it past Given's despairing dive. In the 88th minute, Cocu, who had come on as a substitute, scored his first international goal after an exchange of passes with Bergkamp.

NETHERLANDS: Van der Sar; Reiziger, Blind, Davids, Bogarde, R de Boer (all Ajax), Seedorf (Sampdoria), Witschge (Bordeaux), Cruyff (Barcelona, Bergkamp (Arsenal); Hoekstra (PSV Eindhoven). Substitutes: Taument (Feyenoord) for Hoekstra, 28; Winter (Internazionale) for De Boer, h-t; De Kock (Roda JC Kerkrade) for Blind, h-t; Cocu (PSV Eindhoven) for Cruyff, 75.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Given; Kenna (both Blackburn), Phelan (Chelsea), Kernaghan (Manchester City), Breen (Birmingham), Harte (Leeds), O'Brien (Tranmere), McLoughlin (Portsmouth), Connolly (Watford), Cascarino (Marseille), Moore (Middlesbrough). Substitutes: O'Neill (Norwich) for Cascarino, h- t; Kennedy (Liverpool) for Moore, h-t; Quinn (Manchester City) for Connolly, 65; Cunningham (Wimbledon) for O'Brien, 70; Fleming (Middlesbrough) for Kenna, 79.

Referee: F Lambek (Denmark).