Frank de Boer blasted in a penalty a minute from time as UEFA EURO 2000 co-hosts the Netherlands began their campaign with an unconvincing victory over the Czech Republic in Amsterdam.
De Boer kept his cool to send Pavel Srníček the wrong way after brother Ronald was brought down by Jiří Němec as he attempted to meet a cross from fellow substitute Marc Overmars. It earned a somewhat fortuitous Group D triumph for the Oranje against a Czech side twice denied by the woodwork, their frustrations compounded by the dismissal of Radoslav Látal, who had earlier been replaced, for dissent from the bench.
Both teams started slowly with the accent on patient probing and passing, and only Edgar Davids, living up to his 'Pitbull' sobriquet, injected any real urgency. His direct run after four minutes ended with a tumble and soon after his powerful drive deflected wide for the game's first corner. The Netherlands' second corner produced the first real opening, with Dennis Bergkamp seizing on a poor clearance to fire in a curling shot; Srníček gathered at the second attempt.
The Czech No1 was soon besieged, brilliantly parrying Patrick Kluivert's effort after an excellent turn and shot, then blocking as Boudewijn Zenden followed up – he had earned his luck as the ball bounced off the top of the crossbar and over. The Netherlands had found their passing range and were exerting complete control. They came close again when Bergkamp's low drive went across the face of goal and narrowly wide.
Despite their continued dominance, the chances dried up for the Oranje and slowly but surely their opponents made inroads. Vladimír Šmicer and Pavel Nedvěd were at the heart of the revival and the duo combined well with Jan Koller on 44 minutes. The move culminated with Nedvěd sending a searing strike – his side's only one of the half – narrowly wide.
That proved a sign of things to come as Jozef Chovanec's men began to dominate. Koller's close-range effort was superbly saved by Edwin van der Sar, though he could do nothing when Nedvěd's powerful header crashed back off the upright following Jiří Němec's cross before rolling into the keeper's hands on the goal line. The woodwork was still shaking when Koller's header smacked off the crossbar.
The Netherlands hung on, allowing Frank de Boer to steal it at the death.