Pauleta makes Dutch pay

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The Independent Football

Portugal capitalised on two horrendous mistakes by the Netherlands here last night to dash the Republic of Ireland's hopes of a helpful draw between Euro 2000's beaten semi-finalists.

Portugal capitalised on two horrendous mistakes by the Netherlands here last night to dash the Republic of Ireland's hopes of a helpful draw between Euro 2000's beaten semi-finalists.

A point apiece would certainly have benefited Mick McCarthy, but Portugal were in no mood to spurn the gifts that came their way. Both goals were eminently preventable, but if the first aberration by Marc Overmars was slightly excusable the second by Michael Reiziger was certainly not.

The scene of the Netherlands' 6-1 devastation of Yugoslavia, during Euro 2000 three months ago, failed to inspire the hosts who were a disjointed disappointment. Little of the blame could, however, be attached to Patrick Kluivert, scorer of a hat-trick against the Slavs. Between Portugal's goals he did all he could to put the Netherlands back in the game.

The Netherlands, who started with five Barcelona players but without a single member of their Rangers quartet, gave a debut to Chelsea's Mario Melchiot at right-back. His mediocre evening had hardly begun when he was involved in an interesting discussion with the English referee, Graham Poll, over the legitimacy of Portugal's opening goal in the 10th minute. Pauleta had been allowed to wriggle through unchallenged before sending Conceicao through to score.

When Conceicao subsequently burst clear down the right, Frank de Boer only just succeeded in keeping his cross away from Pauleta whose deserved goal was scored in the 43rd minute, courtesy of Reiziger. His howler was elementary, a careless square pass straight to Pauleta who gained a fortunate rebound off De Boer before wheeling to his right to crash a low drive past Edwin van der Sar. Portugal were then content to keep what they had.

NETHERLANDS (4-4-2): Van der Sar (Juventus); Melchiot (Chelsea), F De Boer (Barcelona), Kocu (Barcelona), Reiziger (Barcelona); Overmars (Barcelona), Van Bommel (PSV Eindhoven), Davids (Juventus), Bouma (PSV); Seedorf (Internazionale); Kluivert (Barcelona). Substitutes: Talan (Heerenveen) for Overmars, 46; Vennegoor of Hesselink (Twente), for Kluivert, 64; Bosvelt (Feynoord) for Reiziger, 71).

PORTUGAL (4-2-3-1): Quim (Braga); Secretario (Porto), Couto (Lazio), Jorge Costa (Porto), Dimas (Sporting Lisbon); Vidigal (Napoli), Bino (Sporting Lisbon); Figo (Real Madrid), Rui Costa (Fiorentina), Conceicao (Parma); Pauleta (Bordeaux). Substitutes used: Sa Pinto (Sporting Lisbon) for Rui Costa, 86; Simao (Barcelona) for Pauleta, 89; Meira (Benfica) for Vidigal.

Referee: G Poll (England).

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