Netherlands 3-0 Belarus
The Netherlands put failing to qualify for the FIFA World Cup behind them tonight with a convincing defeat of Belarus in their EURO 2004™ qualifying opener at the Philips stadium in Eindhoven.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's second-half goal crowned a thoroughly deserved victory paved by first-class strikes from Edgar Davids and Patrick Kluivert. Davids opened the scoring on 34 minutes when his raking left-foot shot left Belarussian goalkeeper Valeri Shantalosov with no chance and striker Kluivert doubled the lead with a header that soared into the net.
No way back
At 2-0 down, Belarus held little hope of finding a way back and despite starting the second half in determined fashion the match was already finished when Hasselbaink controlled Kluivert's assist on 74 minutes with two deft touches, creating the perfect angle to shoot past a hapless Shantalosov.
Romashchenko sent off
It soon became too much for the visitors and Maksim Romashchenko was dismissed with eight minutes to go, despite vehemently protesting his innocence, after kicking out at Hasselbaink as his frustration boiled over.
The Dutch should in fact have won by a wider margin, wasting several chances before the interval. Davids, who dominated the midfield with his trademark tackling and precision passing, blasted over on 20 minutes and Mark van Bommel also saw his shot ghost over the bar following an assist from Kluivert.
The only player who troubled the host defence was striker Vitali Kutuzov, who drifted in from deep on several occasions, but he was rarely allowed to settle on the ball and when he made his best run of the encounter on 52 minutes he was thwarted by the rampant Davids.
Dutch coach Dick Advocaat claimed afterwards he was pleased, but disappointed his side failed to score more. "I was satisfied with the result and the manner of our performance but there are areas where we can improve. We didn't pressurise down the flanks as much as I wanted.
"My wing-backs Fernando Ricksen and Boudewijn Zenden were supposed to be more offensive. But after the first goal we controlled the game and the second goal was the decider. We were hoping for a big score in the second half but it was not to be."