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Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 20:53 GMT 21:53 UK
Group D goes Dutch
France 2-3 Holland
(Amsterdam - Att: 50,000)
Holland clinched top spot in Group D - and a quarter final return to Amsterdam - with a thrilling 3-2 win over world champions France.
And if this group match does serve as a dress rehearsal for the final in Rotterdam on July 2, then mouths are already beginning to water across Europe.
France rested several key players, including captain Didier Deschamps and playmaker Zinedine Zidane, but they made a stunning start.
The World Champions were ahead inside eight minutes when goalkeeper Sander Westerveld, deputising for the injured Edwin van der Sar, failed to gather a Johan Micoud corner, allowing Christophe Dugarry to power home a header.
The early setback was a huge body blow for the co-hosts, but they hauled themselves off the ropes to deliver a knockout blow of their own with an equaliser inside six minutes.
Dennis Bergkamp put his fellow striker Patrick Kluivert clear as the French appealed in vain for offside and Kluivert took full advantage, cutting back inside and bending a shot beyond Bernard Llama for his 25th international goal.
Bergkamp went close to putting the Dutch ahead midway through the first half but saw his scuffed shot bounce against the crossbar with Lama backpedalling furiously.
Instead, it was the French who regained the upper hand on 31 minutes.
Micoud was agonisingly close to scoring with a free-kick from the half-way line, but Westerveld recovered his ground to tip the ball over, only for the French to make the pressure count from the resulting corner.
Once again the Dutch failed to deal with the flag kick and Sylvain Wiltord's stinging shot from the edge of the area was flicked home by David Trezeguet, with Edgar Davids too slow to come off the goal-line and play the French offside.
Leading for a second time was no more than Les Bleues deserved, but the fans that bathed the Amsterdam Arena in a sea of orange refused to turn on their team and their backing was crucial.
Holland came out after the break keen to take a ride on that tidal wave of support and they were soon back on level terms for a second time.
Six minutes after the restart, Frank de Boer caught the French defence out with a thumping free kick as the defensive wall was still being built.
Lama did supremely well to get his hand to the strike, but could only help the ball in off the underside of the crossbar.
Buoyed by the break, Holland completed their comeback with the winner on 59 minutes.
Westerveld's long clearance instantly put full back Christian Karembeu on the back foot and Boudewijn Zenden took full advantage, outstripping his marker and planting a clinical low shot beyond Lama from just inside the penalty area.
France were not about to accept defeat though, despite the prospect of returning to their previous base in Bruges as runners-up.
Sixteen minutes from time, Wiltord came agonisingly close to an equaliser as his shot flew wide of the far post following a neat pass from substitute Youri Djorkaeff.
And Trezeguet had an even better chance to restore parity moments later, only to drill his shot straight at Westerveld after a storming run into the box.
A draw would probably have been the right result at the end of the class encounter of the tournament so far, but there were few complaints as Holland secured the group win that keeps them in Amsterdam, while France return to their adopted home of Bruges.
There was still time for Holland to set one more landmark however, as substitute Aaron Winter was introduced to equal the Dutch international appearance record of 83 caps set by Ruud Krol.
France: Lama, Karembeu, Desailly, Leboeuf, Candela, Vieira (Deschamps 90), Micoud, Dugarry (Djorkaeff 68), Pires, Trezeguet, Wiltord (Anelka 80).
Holland: Westerveld, Bosvelt, Stam, F. de Boer, Numan, Zenden, Davids, Cocu, Overmars (van Vossen 89), Bergkamp (Winter 77), Kluivert (Makaay 60).
Referee: A Frisk (Sweden).
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