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Friday, 30 June, 2000, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
Dutch despair over penalty pain
While it is important at times like these to remember that it is only a football match that has been lost, Holland woke up on Friday as a nation in mourning.
After exiting four of their last five tournaments via the spot-kick trap door, you would think the Dutch were used to the peculiar pain of losing on penalties.
But a quick glance at the nation's newspapers this morning tells a different story - the pain just gets worse.
"Never before have a Dutch team dishonoured themselves and disillusioned an entire country," said Algemeen Dagblad in an editorial that was echoed in all the leading newspapers.
"Just as in the European Cup in 1992 and 1996, and at the World Cup in 1998, penalties proved fatal for the Dutch," Algemeen Dagblad said.
"Not scoring for 120 minutes, 90 minutes playing against 10 men, two ordinary time penalties missed, and after extra time, missing the first two of the penalty shoot-out. Could it be crazier?"
Unusual, yes. Unlucky, definitely. But whether it is any crazier than dressing up in a day-glo orange boiler suit and rastafarian wig with black face paint is probably a moot point.
The Dutch clearly had the better chances to win, but the Italians must be praised for an immense defensive display that saw them keep the home side out for 90 minutes.
"The dream was cruelly destroyed in the Amsterdam Arena. Not so much by the Italians, but by the Dutch themselves," De Telegraaf thundered.
"Any team that takes six penalties and only gets one in the net, brings their destiny on themselves."
De Telegraaf's considered tone was not echoed by Algemeen Dagblad, which, with perhaps a hint of sour grapes, said it hoped France "teach a lesson to the cowards and followers of Dino Zoff's negative style of football".
There was little sympathy on offer for coach Frank Rijkaard, who quit immediately after the game.
"He stated his aim two years ago...European champions in our own country. When the mission failed from the penalty spot, there was only one decision."
Perhaps the final word should be left to that other great Dutch institution, Heineken.
The brewing giant had reserved the whole back page of the front section of the Algemeen Dagblad for a celebratory splash.
But after Thursday night's debacle the page was changed to show a small crumpled ball of advertising in the corner.
Parts of "Hup, Holland, Hup" were visible on the bits of paper sticking out as well as parts of the Heineken name. The rest of the page was left white.
On the bottom was only one line: "Too bad, but this ad no longer applies."
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