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Van Basten's Netherlands hat-trick eliminates England from EURO 1988 Group 2

England 1-3 Netherlands
Marco van Basten's hat-trick condemned Bobby Robson's team to an early exit.

EURO 1988 highlights: Netherlands 3-1 England
EURO 1988 highlights: Netherlands 3-1 England

Marco van Basten's hat-trick earned the Netherlands a 3-1 victory against England in Dusseldorf.

Van Basten was only a substitute as the Dutch lost their Group 2 opener against the USSR, but here proved himself to be a lethal finisher worthy of a starting berth. England did not allow Rinus Michels' team to have it all their own way, however, initially drawing level through captain Bryan Robson having twice been denied by the woodwork in the first half. For the second successive game, though, they had nothing to show for their efforts.

EURO 1988: All you need to know

With Trevor Steven sealing the right flank in Chris Waddle's place, and Glenn Hoddle still showing himself to be a hugely accomplished playmaker, Bobby Robson's team had the better shape. They were lacking in fortune, however, Gary Lineker hitting a post after dashing clear and Hoddle striking the frame of Hans van Breukelen's goal with a free-kick.

Bryan Robson celebrates his goal with Gary Lineker
Bryan Robson celebrates his goal with Gary LinekerPopperfoto via Getty Images

A minute from half-time they were made to pay. Ruud Gullit dispossessed Gary Stevens on the left-hand touch line and impudently crossed low to Van Basten, who trapped the ball superbly, bamboozled Tony Adams with a slick drag-back and finished past Peter Shilton, making his 100th international appearance.

Bryan Robson, putting in a characteristically all-action performance, drew England level eight minutes after the break. Having passed to Lineker, he burst into the penalty area with typical energy, received the ball back and dinked in off Van Breukelen's body.

Marco van Basten scores under pressure
Marco van Basten scores under pressurePopperfoto via Getty Images

The heart of England's defence was as brittle as their opponents', though, and buckled once again with 19 minutes left. Gullit threaded a crafty pass to Van Basten, who drove past Shilton. He completed his hat-trick shortly after, turning in at the back post after Willem Kieft had headed on Erwin Koeman's corner.


Marco van Basten, Netherlands forward: "That was a very nice memory and a very important game for me, Holland and for my career. It was a game where everything changed. I had a difficult year with lot of injury problems. From that moment everything changed and everything went positive. I scored three goals and we won an exciting match against England. Afterwards, the other matches were easier and everything went well."

EURO 1988: Team of the Tournament


The Netherlands line up before the England game
The Netherlands line up before the England gamePopperfoto via Getty Images

England: Shilton; Sansom, Wright, Adams, Stevens; Barnes, Hoddle, Robson (c), Steven (Waddle 68); Lineker, Beardsley (Hateley 72)
Substitutes: Woods, Viv Anderson, McMahon
Coach: Bobby Robson

Netherlands: Van Breukelen; Van Tiggelen, Ronald Koeman, Rijkaard, Van Aerle; Erwin Koeman, Mühren, Wouters, Vanenburg (Kieft 60); Van Basten (Suvrijn 87), Gullit (c)
Substitutes: Hiele, Bosman, Krüzen
Coach: Rinus Michels

Referee: Paolo Casarin (Italy)