Seven and hell for the Welsh

Holland 7 Bergkamp 22, 72, 78, R De Boer 33, Jonk 34, F De Boer 45, Cocu 61 Wales 1 Saunders 40 Attendance: 25,000
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The Independent Online
They wanted to believe in miracles and they put their faith in the talismanic qualities of Vinnie Jones, who demonstrates that much can be achieved from not very much. Inevitably, however, the Welsh were forced to acknowledge vastly superior forces in Eindhoven last night when the Dutch followed up their victory in Cardiff last month with another performance of flowing style and goal-scoring intent.

In truth Wales were lucky to get away with a seven-goal drubbing, their worst World Cup defeat and their heaviest reverse of any kind in the post- war years. It was a harsh indictment, perhaps, on Neville Southall, who again produced heroics, but an adequate reflection of the disparity between the teams. Dennis Bergkamp helped himself to a hat-trick and must wish that facing Premiership defenders was always this easy.

It left a downcast manager Bobby Gould to admit that: "We are all at rock-bottom." He said that it would be the lowest point in their careers for every member of the squad and added that they were prepared for stinging criticism. "We will ask questions of ourselves. We are disappointed with the way some of the goals went in. Yes, our goalkeeper has made some wonderful saves but you wonder why an orange shirt was there to pick up the rebound ahead of ours."

The surprises in the Welsh line-up did not stop at Jones. There was a recall for Southampton's Alan Neilson and a starting appearance for Jason Bowen after a wait of some 30 months. Gould made four changes from the side beaten in Cardiff. The Dutch matched them but their new quartet included the fit-again Bergkamp.

Southall ensured that the first game remained a contest forlonger than expected and, winning his 89th cap, he was again to demonstrate that his athleticism and sense of his angles was as sharp as ever. In the space of four minutes he reeled off the same number of splendid saves, now flying to his right to deny Arther Numan, then extending a left boot to divert a low shot which Clarence Seedorf had struck with venom.

However, the Dutch were merely softening their prey and soon they moved in for the kill so that by half time they had beaten Southall on four occasions.

In the 22nd minute Berg- kamp's responses were sharp when Wim Jonk's free-kick fell to Ronald de Boer whose initial shot was kept out. Eleven minutes later Southall again stood up well to Seedorf's assault but this time Ronald de Boer profited from the rebound.

A minute later, Jonk skipped his way past a couple of ineffective tackles to finish cleverly into the bottom corner.

There was some hope from a Welsh perspective that it would not be the rout now suggested when John Hartson got down the right before pulling back a magnificent ball which Dean Saunders devoured at the far post.

However, the half ended with the three-goal margin restored when Jonks' near post corner was glanced home by Frank de Boer.

In the second half Southall maintained his defiance but it was now less an international contest, more a turkey shoot and Holland helped themselves to another three strikes.

Just past the hour Bergkamp fed Philip Cocu from the left wing and later this striker strode on to a hat-trick.

Holland (4-1-3-2): Van der Sar (Ajax); Reiziger (Milan), Stam (PSV), F de Boer (Ajax), Numan (PSV); Jonk (PSV), Winter (Inter Milan), Seedorf (Real Madrid), Cocu (PSV); Bergkamp (Arsenal), R de Boer (Ajax). Substitutes: Van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord) for Jonk, 82; Overmars (Ajax) for Ronald de Boer, 58; Van Hooijdonk (Celtic) for Seedorf, 69.

Wales (3-5-2): Southall (Everton); Symons (Manchester City), M Bowen (West Ham), Melville (Sunderland); J Bowen (Birmingham), Neilson (Southampton), V Jones (Wimbledon), Pembridge (Sheffield Wednesday) Speed (Everton); Hartson (Arsenal, Saunders (Nottingham Forest). Substitutes: Robinson (Charlton) for J Bowen, 58; Taylor (Sheffield United) for Hartson, 67.

Referee: V Pereira (Portugal).