International Football: Coyne cuts through the Dutch

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The Independent Online
Netherlands. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Republic of Ireland. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

THIS result will make the rest of the world wonder what awaits them from the Irish in the World Cup in two months' time. It was also a wonderful fillip for Jack Charlton's team, who do not make a habit of winning games away from home against top-drawer opposition.

It is a fact which holds true in friendly internationals, which this most certainly was. The level of quality and commitment from a Netherlands side not far short of full strength and who will go to the World Cup finals among the favourites was a bitter disappointment for their supporters in the Tilburg Stadium.

That ought not to deprive the Republic of the kudos of a morale-enhancing victory, however. They were missing several regulars and in the absence of three senior strikers through injury, Tommy Coyne made the most of his opportunity to win the game with a goal early in the second half. It was the Netherlands' first defeat on home soil for two years.

Around him, but mostly behind, for his was an exhausting lone foraging role, there were impressive performances from all those in green shirts. The babes in the party, Gary Kelly and Phil Babb, again looked comfortable in exhalted surroundings and the pace they have brought to the defensive positions ensured that Packie Bonner was well protected when the Dutch stirred.

In fact the Celtic goalkeeper, under pressure for his place, did not have a shot to save, the crossbar coming to his aid when Ronald de Boer stole in for a glancing header in the closing seconds.

Charlton was 'a happy man' afterwards and no wonder, for the gains from this victory included the reminder sent to his absent first-choice players.

Expertly served in midfield by the resourceful Andy Townsend and Steve Staunton, the Republic picked up the initiative from the start. Dennis Bergkamp was only a flickering menace in the first half and both he and Ronald Koeman were rested after the interval.

With this formation Ireland were never going to enjoy a wealth of goalscoring opportunities but they should have gone ahead much earlier. Kelly's 12th minute free-kick was met by Kevin Moran, who steered his header into Coyne's stride. The goal was inviting but the Motherwell striker gave Ed de Goey the chance to save.

Ten minutes into the second half Coyne was far more perceptive. Ronnie Whelan's pass from the right touchline cut the Dutch defence apart and gave John Sheridan space to make it count. Sensibly, he delayed his centre until Coyne had made up ground and the striker squeezed the ball home just ahead of his marker.

NETHERLANDS (1-2-3-1-3): De Goey (Feyenoord); Koeman (Barcelona); Valckx, (Sporting Lisbon), F de Boer (Ajax); Jonk (Internazionale), Rijkaard, Davids (Ajax); Bergkamp (Internazionale); Overmars, R de Boer (Ajax), Roy (Foggia). Substitutes: Winter (Lazio) for Jonk, h-t; De Wolf (Feyenoord) for Koeman, h-t; Taument (Feyenoord) for Bergkamp, h-t.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (4-5-1): Bonner (Celtic); Kelly (Leeds), Moran (Blackburn), Babb (Coventry), Phelan (Manchester City); McGoldrick (Arsenal), Sheridan (Sheff Wed), Whelan (Liverpool), Townsend, Staunton (Aston Villa); Coyne (Motherwell). Substitutes: McAteer (Bolton) for McGoldrick, 70; McLoughlin (Portsmouth) for Phelan, 83; Coyle (Bolton) for Coyne, 83.

Referee: H Strampe (Ger).

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