Netherlands Finally Bursts Loose
For its first 126 minutes of this World Cup, the Netherlands had been the Not-Like-Clockwork Orange, swamping Belgian and South Korean defense with countless offensive forays, only to lead the tournament in punting point-blank shots into the stands.
For more than two hours of soccer, the heralded Holland attack had not produced a thing--nil, nada, zilch, zero--and was still scoreless deep into the first half of Saturday night’s Group E match in Marseille against South Korea.
Finally, Philip Cocu broke through in the 37th minute and the dam, so to speak, burst. Confidence restored, the Dutch scored again within four minutes and were on their way to a 5-0 rout--the largest margin of victory of the 1998 World Cup.
“With the quality players we have, you know you can score a lot,” said Dutch striker Dennis Bergkamp, who scored the Netherlands’ third goal in the 71st minute. “Once you have scored the first goal, you know you can get more.”
Cocu, most often deployed as a midfielder for Holland, started Saturday’s match at forward in place of Patrick Kluivert, serving the first of a two-game suspension for elbowing Belgium defender Lorenzo Staelens during Holland’s frustrating 0-0 draw last Saturday.
For the Dutch, Kluivert’s suspension proved to be a blessing in disguise. Instead of agonizing over every ball to clumsily carom off Kluivert’s foot, the thousands of orange-clad Dutch fans inside Stade Velodrome watched Cocu energize the Netherlands attack with his left-footed blast from the top of the penalty area.
Four minutes later, the Dutch doubled their scoring output for the tournament, with left winger Marc Overmars finishing off a three-on-two break by taking a long feed from Wim Jonk, cutting left to right and beating South Korean goalkeeper Kim Byung Ji inside the near post.
Overmars’ goal seemed to break the South Koreans’ spirit. After defending tenaciously for 30 minutes--repeatedly flogging the ball out of their own penalty area just before a Dutch attacker could zero in--the South Koreans were in disarray for most of the second half, yielding goals in the 71st, 80th and 83rd minutes.
“I feel the Netherlands were invincible tonight,” said an awe-struck Cha Bum Kun, the South Korea coach. “They kept the ball in the second half and scored excellent goals.
“The Dutch are a very strong team and if they continue playing like they did tonight, I believe they can win the final.”
Bergkamp, making his first start since April after sitting out six weeks because of a hamstring injury, made it 3-0 by shedding two defenders at the top of the South Korean box and driving the ball with the outside of his right foot, hard and low, past Kim.
Netherlands Coach Guus Hiddink, figuring the three-goal spread was comfortable enough, called Bergkamp off the field in the 78th minute and replaced him with Pierre Van Hooijdonk, who needed only two minutes and three touches to make it 4-0.
Van Hooijdonk headed in a cross from Overmars and three minutes later, Ronald De Boer closed the scoring, sending the besieged Kim lunging in vain one final time.
“I am delighted because of the result,” Hiddink said. “We knew playing like this, sooner or later we would score the first goal.
“I was very happy for the first goal by Philip Cocu. I knew he could play in the spot where I put him.”
The 5-0 final score eclipsed France’s 4-0 triumph over Saudi Arabia as the most lopsided victory of the tournament and moved the Netherlands to the top of Group E. Holland and Mexico are each 1-0-1 after two matches, but the Dutch are three goals ahead in goal differential.
South Korea (0-2) remained winless in five trips to the World Cup, now 0-10-3.
The Netherlands and Mexico will meet Thursday at Saint-Etienne, with the Dutch needing only a tie to clinch first place in the group.
“We can go through with a draw, but we are going for the win,” Dutch defender Arthur Numan said. “Now we are one of the [World Cup] favorites. Our task now is to grow into the tournament.”
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
SUMMARY / GROUP E at Marseille
South Korea 0
Netherlands: 2 3--5
South Korea: 0 0--0
First-half scoring--1, Netherlands, Cocu 1, 37th minute. 2, Netherlands, Overmars 1, 42nd.
Second-half scoring--3, Netherlands, Bergkamp 1, 71st. 4, Netherlands, Van Hooijdonk 79th. 5, Netherlands, R. de Boer, 83rd.
Shots--Netherlands 27. South Korea 12.
Shots on goal--Netherlands 17. South Korea 4.
Offsides--Netherlands 5, South Korea 1.
Fouls--Netherlands 11, South Korea 16.
Yellow cards--South Korea, Choi, 27th; Ko, 93rd.
Referee--Wojcik, Poland. Linesmen--Dupanov, Belarus; Pociegiel, Poland.
Netherlands--Edwin van der Sar; Aron Winter, Jaap Stam, Frank de Boer, Arthur Numan (Winston Bogarde, 80th), Ronald de Boer (Boudewijn Zenden, 84th) Wim Jonk, Edgar Davids, Marc Overmars; Philip Cocu, Dennis Bergkamp (Pierre van Hooijdonk, 78th).
South Korea--Kim Byung Ji; Lee Min-sung, Hong Myung Bo, Choi Young Il; Choi Sung Yyong (Kim Tae Young, 53rd) Lee Sang Yoon, Kim Do Keun, Yoo SangChul; Choi Yong Soo, Kim Do Hoon, Seo Jung Won (Lee Dong Gook, 77th).