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Thursday, April 29, 2004 

Dutch destroy Greek run

The Netherlands brought an emphatic end to Greece’s 15-match unbeaten run courtesy of a comfortable 4-0 friendly win in Eindhoven. Roy Makaay, Boudewijn Zenden, John Heitinga and Pierre van Hooijdonk were all on the scoresheet as the home side warmed up for the summer in style.

The home side appeared entirely unhampered by the absences of Ruud van Nistelrooij, Andy van der Meyde, Edgar Davids, Arjen Robben and Philip Cocu. Only defender Mihalis Kapsis was out for Greece and midfield player Giorgios Karagounis returned to take his place in midfield after missing the 1-0 defeat of Switzerland in March. The almost full-strength side nevertheless lacked cohesion at the back and spark going forward.

The Dutch began the match incisively, taking full advantage of Dick Advocaat’s decision to change his customary 4-3-3 system and play with two forwards – Patrick Kluivert and Roy Makaay – and four men in midfield. Indeed, Makaay twice went close to giving his team an early lead, powering wide when unmarked in the second minute following a cross from Rafael van der Vaart and heading straight at goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis four minutes later.

Greece, meanwhile, struggled to impose themselves in the first period. On the rare occasions Otto Rehhagel's team did manage to create dangerous openings, the home team were alive to the danger. Wilfred Bouma made an excellent tackle to bring Giourkas Seitaridis' run to a halt just outside the box in the 25th minute. Soon afterwards, Nikolaos Dabizas was presented with his team’s best chance before the break from a free-kick but Edwin van der Sar palmed his headed effort over.

But if the Netherlands had been guilty of failing to deliver an end product to their neat passing game before the interval, this was certainly not the case in the second period. Makaay opened the scoring in the 49th minute, positioning himself perfectly to tap in Zenden's cross from close range. Provider turned goalscorer four minutes later as the Middlesbrough FC midfield player collected the ball on the edge of the area and slammed in a shot which took a deflection off Dabizas, wrong-footing keeper Nikopolidis. Defender Heitinga made it 3-0 in the 61st minute, heading in a right-wing Van der Vaart free-kick .

Van Hooijdonk landmark
Pierre van Hooijdonk applied the gloss finish to a commanding display a minute from time, converting a cross from Zenden for his tenth international goal. The Fenerbhace striker had become the record holder of Dutch substitute appearances when he came on for his 37th cap 24 minutes earlier. It was his 35th appearance as a replacement, beating the previous record held by Aron Winter.

Source: Uefa.com


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