Netherlands v England
Tuesday 18th June 1996
Wembley (Old) Stadium
Set the Scene
Football Fever had well and truly hit the roof by the time England and Netherlands met in the Final Group Game of Group A at the 1996 European Championships held in England. The International Giants were Joined in the Group by Scotland and Switzerland. All 4 Teams still had a chance of Qualification going into the final matchday.
Netherlands topped the Group going into the Fixture at Wembley against England on 18th June 1996. A draw would see the Netherlands Win the Group and leave England nervously awaiting the result of Scotland v Switzerland at Villa Park. What unfolded during the match was arguably the best result England had produced since the 1966 World Cup Final.
England Manager Terry Venables had come under a little criticism from the media for not changing his team for the game against Scotland but his loyalty to his players was rewarded with a 2-0 win and he once again named an unchanged side for the 3rd consecutive game. The Dutch squad was full of Superstars Including Clarence Seedorf, Dennis Bergkamp, Ronald De Boer and a teenage sensation in Patrick Kluivert. The Dutch were no strangers to controversy at a Major Tournement and Edgar Davids had been sent home from the Squad before this Fixture for voicing his opinions about the selection of Manager Guus Hiddink. This raised questions about the togetherness of the Dutch Squad.
Netherlands started the match the brighter of the two teams at Wembley dominating possession and David Seaman was called into make a couple of routine saves early on. It was the 23rd Minute of the game when England took the lead from the Penalty spot when Paul Ince produced a wonderful drag back which totally bamboozled the legendary Ajax defender Danny Blind and he clumsily brought down the Midfielder and Alan Shearer stepped up a blasted the ball past the outstreched hand of Edwin Van der Sar in the Dutch goal.
The rest of the half was totally dominated by the Dutch and this often gets over looked when we revisit this match. They created some fantastic chances with Aron Winter missing two presentable chances and Dennis Bergkamp also guilty of twice failing to score with good chances including a one on one with Seaman. The reality was that the Dutch were pressing that hard that England needed Half-Time and they got it still with there one goal lead intact.
England made a slight change at half time with Teddy Sheringham dropping a little deeper and i proved a masterstroke from Venables. In Fact early England pressure was rewarded in the 51st Minute when Sheringham climbed above his marker to head home from a corner to give England a 2-0 lead. Jordi Cryff should have halved the deficit just a couple of minutes later but he lacked composure and after 57 Minutes they were punished further for poor finishing when England produced a wonderful move involving Gascoigne, Sheringham and Shearer. Gasgcoigne drove into the box and pulled it back to Sheringham who looked in prime position to get his shot away but he unselfishly layed the ball sideways to an unmarked Shearer who blasted the ball high into the Dutch net to give England a 3-0 advantage
The Purple spell continued for England after 62 minutes when Sheringham got his 2nd of the game following in a shot that Van der Sar should really of held to place the ball into the far corner and England were 4-0 up and further bad news for the Dutch came through from Villa Park that Scotland led Switzerland are were heading through on goal difference and the Dutch were heading home.
Guus Hiddink had left Kluivert out of the team due to injury concerns but he had to throw the young Ajax starlet on in the search of a goal. He entered the field in the 72nd Minute and the change had worked within 6 minutes when Kluivert got on the end of a chipped ball in and volleyed under Seaman and despite trailing 4-1 the Dutch were back in second place.
England did have a couple of half chances through substitute Robbie Fowler but the scorer remained 4-1 at Wembley and 1-0 at Villa Park to mean both England as Group winners and Netherlands had qualified for the Quarter Finals
After 90 Minutes the Stats told a totally different story to the 4-1 Victory England had recorded. The Dutch had enjoyed more Possession, More Corners, More Shots and almost as many shots on target as England but this was an evening when everything just fell into place for Terry Venable’s men.
Van der Sar, Reiziger, Blind, Bogarde, De Boer.R, Seedorf, Winter, Witschge, Cruyff, Bergkamp, Hoekstra
Subs Used : Cocu, Kluivert, De Kock
Seaman, Neville, Adams (C), Southgate, Pearce, Anderton, Ince, Gascoigne, McManaman, Sheringham, Shearer
Subs Used : Platt, Barmby, Fowler