Euro `96: Bergkamp and Cruyff settle Dutch nerves

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The Independent Online
Switzerland 0 Netherlands 2

So desperate is Jordi Cruyff to escape the shadow caste by his legendary father, Johan, that he prefers to be known only by his first name. Last night he struck a blow for his own identity with a goal that broke Swiss hearts in a contest of bold attacking strategies at Villa Park. The 22- year-old winger, whose talent was carefully developed under parental care at Barcelona until Cruyff Snr was sacked last month, scored his first goal for his country in only his third appearance. Dennis Bergkamp, the Arsenal striker, secured the victory within the last 11 minutes to establish the Netherlands as leaders of group A, with qualification to the quarter- finals almost guaranteed.

In that it was decisive, the result probably suits both England and Scotland, although the improving quality of the Dutch play will not have offered the England coach, Terry Venables, many glimpses of encouragement. Nor will the Scots feel comfortable about the prospect of possibly needing to qualify by beating the Swiss should they lose at Wembley on Saturday. If Artur Jorge's team enhanced their status against England, they grew again in stature here despite their defeat.

Throwing caution to the wind, Jorge challenged the Dutch by fielding three strikers, a policy he admitted beforehand that many coaches would think mad. The consequence was that the Netherlands were never sure of their point until Bergkamp's goal.

That said, Jordi's joyful moment in the 65th minute made the outcome much more likely in that it lifted a huge weight from the shoulders of the young man and his team-mates, who carried forward the frustrations of their failure to break down Scotland last Monday, a result not accepted with sympathy by their critics.

Their tension dispersed, the Dutch played with greater freedom and that the Swiss should concede again surprised no one. Indeed they might have taken more punishment.

For 65 minutes, however, the Swiss could justifiably hold up their heads. Jorge's strike force, Stephane Chapuisat starting this time, alongside Marco Grassi and Kubilay Turkyilmaz, presented the Dutch with three players of strength and technical proficiency.

One player let down the Dutch coach, Guus Hiddink, who had urged his team to play with their heads not their hearts. Clarence Seedorf, already booked for shirt pulling, surprisingly escaped further punishment for a late challenge on Turkyilmaz, an incident midway through the first half that might have had a significant influence, had the red card been shown. Hiddink responded by withdrawing Seedorf almost immediately. Otherwise, the Dutch remained cool. A moment before he rewarded their patience with his superbly executed goal, Cruyff had already seen a header hooked miraculously off the line by Stephane Henchoz. Now, after Marco Pascolo, a heroic figure in the Swiss goal, had tried to punch Ronald de Boer's corner to safety, he brought the ball down with his right foot, shifted his balance to open up daylight alongside his marker and drove with his left foot, beating Pascolo just inside the near post from a wide angle on the right.

At this, Swiss resolve subsided. Hottiger missed an easy chance. Then Bergkamp chased a long kick from the goalkeeper, escaping the centre backs. Pascolo thwarted him initially, but the ball fell kindly for the Arsenal striker to score at the second attempt.

Goals: Cruyff (66) 0-1; Bergkamp (79) 0-2.

SWITZERLAND (4-3-3): Pascolo (Servette); Hottiger (Everton), Vega (Grasshopper), Henchoz (Hamburg), Quentin (Sion); Jeanneret (Neuchatel Xamax), Sforza (Bayern Munich), Vogel (Grasshopper); Turkyilmaz (Grasshopper), Grassi (Monaco), Chapuisat (Borussia Dortmund). Substitute: Comisetti (Grasshopper) for Jeanneret, 68.

NETHERLANDS (3-1-3-3): Van der Sar (Ajax); Reiziger (Ajax), Seedorf (Sampdoria), Bogarde (Ajax); Blind (Ajax); Winter (Lazio), R de Boer (Ajax), Witschge (Ajax); Cruyff (Barcelona), Bergkamp (Arsenal), Hoekstra (Ajax). Substitutes: De Kock (Roda JC Kerkrade) for Seedorf, 25; Davids (Ajax) for R de Boer, 80; Kluivert (Ajax) for Cruyff, 85.

Referee: A Ouzounov (Bulgaria).

Bookings: Switzerland: Jeanneret, Chapuisat, Turkyilmaz, Grassi. Netherlands: Seedorf.

Man of the match: Cruyff. Attendance: 38,000.

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