Ruud van Nistelrooy scored a brilliantly-executed late goal to give
the Netherlands a 1-1 draw with arch-rivals Germany in their opening
Euro 2004 match.
Van Nistelrooy, who had endured a frustrating night, turned sharply
to hook in a right-wing cross after 81 minutes, acrobatically steering
the ball past goalkeeper Oliver Kahn to earn his side a point.
Germany had deservedly taken the
lead on Tuesday through Torsten Frings's 30th-minute free
kick and although the Dutch rallied in the closing stages,
the Germans appeared to have done enough to win.
Instead, one point each means the Czech Republic top Group D after
their earlier 2-1 win over Latvia.
"We played very well in the first half and deserved to go
into the lead but I think a draw is a fair result because the Dutch
did step up a gear in the second half," Germany coach Rudi
"There was tremendous disappointment in the locker
room but I think the feeling will prevail that a draw was
"In a way a draw is a good thing because it prevents the kind
of complacency that settles in when
you win clearly."
Dutch coach Dick Advocaat said his players had failed to carry
out his tactical instructions.
"We didn't play well in the first half," he said. "My
players didn't do what they were meant to do.
"We had too many people in defence when they were supposed
to push on into midfield and we could
hardly reach our strikers."