Patrick Kluivert scored a hat-trick in a breathtaking display of opportunism as the Netherlands booked a UEFA EURO 2000 semi-final meeting with Italy with a competition record 6-1 win.
A defence-minded Yugoslavia kept it on an even keel until midway through the first half but once Kluivert broke the deadlock they sank fast. By the time the FC Barcelona striker exited on the hour he had secured the match ball, also playing a big role in Dejan Govedarica's own goal. Two late Marc Overmars strikes made it six; Savo Milošević last-gasp effort was little consolation.
The Netherlands gave an early signal of their intent when Dennis Bergkamp's firm drive cannoned to safety off Siniša Mihajlović following a slick move involving Boudewijn Zenden and Overmars. Yet Yugoslavia, so fluent in the group stage, were not overawed. Mihajlović's vicious free-kick tested Edwin van der Sar, while Predrag Mijatović ought to have asked more pressing questions after Milošević left Frank de Boer for dead.
The Oranje were stung into action. Bergkamp twice went close before teeing up Edgar Davids for a shot that rose over the angle of post and bar when he should have scored. The Arsenal FC man also instigated the opener as his sublime ball over the top caught Mihajlović on his heels and Ivica Kralj compounded the error by staying glued to his line as Kluivert brought the ball under control. By the time the goalkeeper awoke to the danger the forward was already in the process of poking it past him.
The dam had burst. Yugoslavia were pegged back by wave after wave of attack and, though they survived when Overmars volleyed over, they had no answer when Davids dropped the ball behind Mihajlović seven minutes before half-time. Kluivert merely had to side-foot the ball in to double the lead. The grey skies over Rotterdam were serving as a stark contrast to the glorious exhibition of sunshine football inside the Feijenoord Stadium.
Davids was particularly bright, dispatching a pass of outstanding subtlety to give Overmars an opportunity to intrude on the Kluivert show but he got under his effort. It was a temporary reprieve for Yugoslavia, who fell further in arrears when Paul Bosvelt's centre was turned into his own net by Govedarica under pressure from Kluivert. Then the striker completed his hat-trick, volleying in after good work from Zenden on the left.
Yugoslavia's tormentor-in-chief departed to thunderous acclaim after he was accidentally caught by Mihajlović's arm. Overmars simply picked up the slack, volleying in Bergkamp's pass 12 minutes from time before making it 6-0 late on. There was still time for Milošević to tap in his fifth of the finals, but this was the Netherlands' day.