First Klaas Dutch march on
Holland eased into the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 after securing a 2-0 victory over Romania.
By Chris Burton
Last Updated: 17/06/08 11:14pm
Holland ensured that they eased into the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 with maximum points after securing a 2-0 victory over Romania.
Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie got the goals as the Dutch continued their impressive pursuit of glory.
With a place in the quarter-finals, and top spot, already secured the wholesale changes made by Marco van Basten were always going to see Holland struggle to replicate the impeccably high standards they had set in their opening two fixtures.
Romania were never going to roll over, having already proven their worth against Italy and France, and Victor Piturca's men were at their solid best yet again.
They frustrated the Oranje army for the majority of the first-half, with Arjen Robben wasting the best of Holland's rare opportunities.
Adrian Mutu looked lively and inventive up front for Romania, but it was Paul Codrea who blazed Romania's best effort over the bar seconds before the break.
Holland were much the better side after the interval, though, and took a deserved lead nine minutes into the second half when Huntelaar diverted a low cross from the right into the bottom corner.
Romania, aware of events elsewhere as Italy defeated France, appeared crestfallen and never looked like getting back into the game.
Resigned to their fate they conceded a second with three minutes left on the clock when Van Persie smashed an unstoppable drive into the roof of the net past a stranded Bogdan Lobont.
Van Basten made nine changes from the team which thumped Les Bleus 4-1 last time out, with only Orlando Engelaar and Khalid Boulahrouz retained.
Victor Piturca brought in Sorin Ghionea, Razvan Cocis, Banel Nicolita and Marius Niculae at the expense of Mirel Radoi, Florentin Petre, Dorin Goian and Daniel Niculae.
Marius Niculae came close to justifying his selection as early as the fourth minute when he lashed a well-hit snap-shot across Maarten Stekelenburg, but wide.
Mutu engineered some space for himself inside the area in the 24th minute but Wilfred Bouma got enough on his left-footed shot on the turn to avert the danger.
Fiorentina frontman Mutu tried his luck again on the half hour, this time from distance, but again did not make Stekelenburg work.
At the other end, Boulahrouz burst through down the right 11 minutes before half-time and fed Huntelaar, whose first-time effort flew over the bar.
Two minutes later, Robben latched onto Huntelaar's neat flick and looked to slot his shot into the bottom left corner with the outside of his left boot, but the Real Madrid man saw his strike trickle agonisingly just the wrong side of the post.
Romania could have given themselves the perfect fillip a minute before half-time when Razvan Rat pulled the ball back for Codrea, but he fired over.
Van Persie almost scored a sublime goal within four minutes of the restart when he pulled down a long ball with his left foot, took one more touch to turn and then got a right-footed shot away which Lobont got down well to save.
However, Van Basten did not have to wait too much longer to see his side deservedly open the scoring.
Ibrahim Afellay played in the cross from the right, Engelaar's dummy had the Romanian defence all at sea and Huntelaar timed his run to perfection to slot past Lobont in the 55th minute.
Much of the remainder of the match took place in the Romania half, despite the fact the game was of little consequence to the Dutch.
Cristian Chivu was shown a yellow card for a reckless challenge which halted a promising run from Tim de Cler down the left as the Romanians' frustrations grew.
Van Persie struck a sweet left-footed volley over the bar in the 82nd minute as Holland looked to double their advantage.
Petre was then introduced and almost made an immediate impact, first setting up Mutu who completely mistimed his effort and then unleashing an overhead-kick which just would not come down in time from a Romanian point of view.
Then, in the 88th minute, man of the match Van Persie set Italian hearts at rest by controlling the ball on his chest, shaking off the attentions of Cosmin Contra and blasting a left-footed sizzler past Lobont.