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Sneijder and Co earn right to party

Wesley Sneijder said the Netherlands were planning "a small party" after putting in another electric display to defeat France 4-1 and secure top spot in Group C.

Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder celebrate a Dutch goal
Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder celebrate a Dutch goal ©Getty Images

'Pure pleasure'
Sneijder collected his second Carlsberg Man of the Match award of the finals at the full-time whistle after Marco van Basten's side undid the 2006 FIFA World Cup finalists – with the 24-year-old applying the coup de grâce of a tremendous late strike. "This is great, this is pure pleasure," the midfielder said. "The [3-0 win] against Italy was a fantastic game, and today we did exactly the same [in winning by three goals]. We must enjoy this win."

Pressure off
The Real Madrid CF player was pleased that the Oranje could go into Wednesday's final group match against Romania with the pressure off. "If we had lost today, and also against Romania, then we would have had nothing. But we are through now so we can have a small party, but not too much because we have to play the quarter-finals soon." Asked if there would be singing on the team bus tonight, he added: "I don't know yet, we'll just wait and see."

'Just superb'
The result confirmed the Netherlands as the tournament's form team, following up their scalp of world champions Italy. "This is just superb – six points after two games. Italy and France are not the smallest teams. This gives us a lot of confidence. I believe we have a lot of individual class, but the most important thing is that we are a real team – everyone works very hard. That is a great compliment to the team. Also, the players that were brought in adapted to the play perfectly."

Balance tipped
Jerzy Engel, representing the UEFA Technical Team who decided on the Man of the Match after noting the outcome of the online vote on euro2008.com, admitted that Sneijder had been one of a number of star players on show. "It was very difficult to make a decision," said the former Poland coach. "At the end, we were looking at three players – at Franck Ribéry, at Arjen Robben and at Sneijder, who was the architect of the game. When he scored the goal at the end, it tipped the balance in his favour."

'Festival of football'
Nonetheless, Engel felt credit deserved to be widely shared for what was a tremendous tie. "It was a festival of football – not only because of the game, but because of the supporters of both sides. The France team played their part and made some fantastic moves, so there were fantastic actions from both teams. We had fantastic effort from the players and fantastic work from the coaches, because the changes they made really changed the picture of the game. Everything beautiful that you have in football you had in this game today."