The Netherlands twice came from behind against a second string France to clinch top spot in Group D and set up a UEFA EURO 2000 quarter-final on home soil, against Yugoslavia in Rotterdam.
A little of the appeal of this eagerly-awaited clash had been lost by the fact both teams were already through after back-to-back wins, yet the pair put on a real spectacle. Christophe Dugarry and Patrick Kluivert exchanged early strikes, and while David Trezeguet restored France's lead, two goals in eight minutes early in the second half turned the game on its head.
Frank de Boer's thunderous free-kick made it 2-2, with Bernard Lama doing well even to get a hand to it as it veered away off Patrick Vieira. The fans in Amsterdam had barely returned to their seats when Boudewijn Zenden put the co-hosts in front, sweeping up when Sander Westerveld's long clearance eluded Kluivert and Frank Leboeuf.
That brought some atonement from Westerveld, deputising for the injured Edwin van der Sar, after he had started the game in innocuous fashion – his hesitancy following Johan Micoud's corner was punished by a firm Dugarry header. The Netherlands were level inside six minutes after Dennis Bergkamp's splendid long diagonal pass released Kluivert, Leboeuf appealing for offside in vain as the striker fired beyond Lama.
Suddenly the Oranje were on top. Marc Overmars threatened with two dangerous runs and Bergkamp poked wide after evading Marcel Desailly, the only member of France's first XI starting here. Then, after Zenden had made room for a cross, Bergkamp volleyed the ball into the ground, only to see it bounce onto the crossbar.
Yet another right-wing corner proved the Netherlands' undoing. Jaap Stam got his head to the ball this time, but his clearance went only as far as Sylvain Wiltord who drove it back with power. Trezeguet applied the slightest of flicks to loft the ball over the diving Westerveld.
The partisan crowd wanted more, expected more, and soon after the restart they got more courtesy of De Boer and Zenden. Not that France were ready to throw in the towel. Wiltord and Trezeguet both went close in an absorbing finale that saw Aron Winter come on for his 83rd cap, equalling Ruud Krol's Dutch record. Yet they could not avoid a first defeat in 14 games at a major tournament (discounting penalties) and Spain await in the quarter-finals.