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Netherlands 3-0 Italy



UEFA EURO 2008 GROUP C
FT Romania 0-0 France Match report
FT Netherlands 3-0 Italy Match report

GOALFLASHES AND MAJOR INCIDENTS (all times BST)

606: DEBATE
To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111. (Not all contributions can be used)
By Jonathan Stevenson

2202: I'll join you tomorrow for Spain v Russia and Greece v Sweden. I think we'll all sleep a lot better after that last game, won't we? Blinding.

2200:PLAYER RATER - What a performance by the Dutch. And you lot are going nuts for them, with Wesley Sneijder quite rightly top of the pops with 8.53. Gio Van Bronckhorst is second with 8.28. Not such great marks for the Italians, lots of fives and sixes - which seems a touch harsh if you don't mind me saying. They played a full part in a top-drawer match. Still there is time for it to all change...
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2158: We have picked, perhaps unsurprisingly, Netherlands' third goal as our Champagne Moment of the evening, though it's more like a Champagne Minute as it starts with Edwin van der Sar's brilliant save from Andrea Pirlo's free-kick and ends with Giovanni van Bronckhorst setting the seal on the Dutch victory by heading home. It was just a gorgeous, gorgeous goal.

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Van der Sar and Van Bronckhorst wrap it up

2150: "Credit to Holland for potentially saving a boring tournament so far."
Julian, via text

2141: That game is enough to make anyone fall in love with football and I am so pleased it happened early on in the tournament. Netherlands must now be among the favourites for the tournament, while France v Italy in Zurich on 17 June is starting to look like the great eliminator. Oh boy.

2135: FULL-TIME Netherlands 3-0 Italy

2134: Italy could play all night and they wouldn't score. Luca Toni tees up Antonio Cassano six yards out and his shot deflects wide. It's not a 3-0 display by Italy, they have been inlucky in all fairness.

2132: We are into injury time now. I wish this match could go on forever.

2130: It's just great to watch. Robin van Persie tricks his way through a couple of half-hearted tackles and hammers a left-foot shot just past the post. Roberto Donadoni looks sickened, his counterpart Marco van Basten looks like he is in dreamland.

2128: "Why do I have a nagging doubt that the Dutch (yet again) have peaked too early in a major tournament?"
Board Stupid on 606
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Oh pipe down. Who cares? This is the best thing that could have happened to the Euros. Spain, tomorrow, follow their lead. We are up and running in a massive way.

2127: "Total Football Is back."
Our Vic on 606
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Let's hope it's here to stay, too. What a match.

2123: Ibrahim Afellay, who has just come on for Dirk Kuyt, smashes in a phenomenal shot from an angle 15 yards out that beats a mesmerised Gianluigi Buffon and clips off the top of the crossbar. This is Dutch football at its best - what a performance.

2120: GOAL Netherlands 3-0 Italy
Oh my God. A sensational breakaway goal yet again from the Dutch. It starts with keeper Edwin van der Sar making a stunning save from Andrea Pirlo's free-kick, before the Dutch race upfield, Gio van Bronckhorst sets up Dirk Kuyt, Gianluigi Buffon denies him brilliantly, before Kuyt chips the rebound on to Van Bronckhorst's head for him to nod in from six yards. Wonderful, wonderful football.

2119: Italy just had to score. Fabio Grosso beats the offside trap and cuts in from the right and his shot is blocked by Edwin van der Sar, somehow the Dutch clearing the rebound.

2117: Antiono Cassano magnificently picks out Luca Toni, who beats the offside trap, takes a touch and then hammers a left-foot shot way over the crossbar with only Edwin van der Sar to beat. The Dutch bring on John Heitinga for Khalid Boulahrouz.

2116: Robin van Persie's march through on goal is halted by the assistant referee's flag. Italy coach Roberto Donadoni has a last throw of the dice, bringing on bad boy Antonio Cassano for Mauro Camoranesi.

2112: Alessandro del Piero lashes another right-foot shot over the bar, while Ruud van Nistelrooy is taken off to a standing ovation and Arsenal's Robin van Persie, who has been injured, is on. By the way, it's also the brilliant Wesley Sneijder's birthday today. Happy 24th, son.

2109: One of the greatest stats in the magnificent history of stats has been handed over to me by my gaffer for the day, Dan. This Italy team is the oldest in the history of the European Championship - at an average age of 31 years and 52 days. And that was without injured captain Fabio Cannavaro, 34!

2107: Ooooooooh. Alessandro del Piero does really well to manoeuvre himself half a yard on the edge of the Dutch box, but his shot is just too close to Edwin van der Sar and he saves low down to his left.

2105: Andrea Pirlo, so close. He spots Edwin van der Sar standing miles out of position for a free-kick from the left and tries an ambitious shot, but it flies into the side-netting with the keeper beaten. Alessandro del Piero comes on for Antonio di Natale as Italy try to change the course of this game.

2101: Luca Toni does wonderfully well to chest down a long ball in the Dutch area, but his turn and shot is a bit on the optimistic side and Edwin van der Sar gathers comfortably.

2059: Italy are struggling to even get the ball off the Dutch when they play it around. They don't particularly look like world champions at the moment. Nigel de Jong is booked for a foul on Massimo Ambrosini.

2055: Gianluca Zambrotta, who was rubbish for Barcelona, gets past Dirk Kuyt down the left and cuts into the box, but his wild right-foot shot flies wide of the target. Italy now bring on Fabio Grosso for Marco Materazzi.

2054: "As a Scot, having watched France and now Italy, we have got to wonder how these teams put us out of the competition!"
brightzaraerin on 606
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Haha. You're not wrong pal.

2052: Gennaro Gattuso is cautioned for dissent. Italy might be on the brink of losing it here. The Dutch have started the second half every bit as confidently as they finished the first.

2050: Honestly, this whole match seems to be about Ruud van Nistelrooy either staying on his feet or going down. He falls under a Marco Materazzi challenge on the edge of the Italy box but nothing is given - I have to say, that looked a bit like a foul to me.

2048: I'm reliably informed that Italy have only ever lost by more than one goal on five occasions at European Championship finals and World Cup finals matches. Blimey.

2047: The Dutch get us under way in the second half. More of the same please guys.

2047: "Who cares whether Ruud was offside or not? He stayed on his feet earlier when he could have gone for a penalty and a red card. That's great football!"
Terry, UK, via text

2045: "Italy really have to sort themselves out. They are seriously lacking in creativity. Pirlo passes the ball very well and Gattuso is a great ball winner, but the defence is shaky without Cannavaro and I don't rate the front three at all. Toni is overrated, Di Natale is out of his depth, and Camoranesi's haircuts just get more ridiculous every tournament."
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2043: Now, maybe you're reading this from the comfort of your own home, logged on to your computer with a drink and a sandwich. Lucky you. But maybe you're out and about and reading this on your mobile while completing other tasks in your busy, busy life.

If that's the case, you might want to know that if you text the word "euros" to 81010 you will get a link to our Euro 2008 website. Click on that and you're in a world of mobile international football tournament news heaven. Just remember that texts to the BBC cost 10p to 15p and that although our site is free for you to access, your network operator will charge you for the amount of data you use.
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2041: "No surprise the referee got abuse from the Italians as he left the pitch. In all fairness it was his assistant's error. He disappeared quicker than David Copperfield."
BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury in Berne

2039:Player Rater. You'll not be surprised to learn that the Dutch are bossing things. Ruud van Nistelrooy has a storming 8.23, but let's take time to recognise the scores of Wesley Sneijder (7.86), Edwin van der Sar (7.09), Dirk Kuyt (7.05) and Rafael van der Vaart (7.01). Gianluigi Buffon is top Italian with 7.22. Are you reading this, Romania and France players? Embarrassed?
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2036: "It's 2-0 but it could be more. Italy have got to put someone up front with Luca Toni now, they've got to go for it a bit."
Sir Trevor Brooking on BBC Radio 5 Live

2033: That is quite comfortably the best half we have seen so far this tournament. A brilliant display of attacking football by the Dutch, making a mockery of those who thought this was one of their weakest squads in recent memory. Special mention for Wesley Sneijder - the Real Madrid man has been at his magical best.

2031: Half-time Netherlands 2-0 Italy

2030: Antonio di Natale rifles in a shot from the edge of the Dutch area but it rises just over Edwin van der Sar's crossbar. Into stoppage time.

2027: Big moment. Ruud van Nistelrooy is sent clean through by Rafael van der Vart, a truly majestic pass from the left, but Gianluigi Buffon races from his line and he gets legs to the Real Madrid striker's shot, deflecting the ball over the bar. Could have been game over.

2025: "Holland look like Germany the other day. They are making football look easy at the moment and even though its too early to say, we might see a Germany vs Holland final in my opinion."
mistyevita on 606
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2023: Lots of chat going on about Netherlands' first goal and whether it was offside or not. Now Christian Pannuci in trying to clear the ball was off the pitch when Wesley Sneijder hit his shot that Ruud van Nistelrooy deflected in. If Panucci was declared still active, then Ruud wasn't offside - but we are trying to find out so we can 100% say for sure. If you've got a refereeing dilemma and you need some help with it, why not ask You Are The Ref?
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2019: Gianluca Zambrotta is booked for a clumsy challenge on Dirk Kuyt.

2018: This is blinding stuff. Antonio di Natale slams a shot goalwards inside the Dutch area and it goes through the legs of Khalid Boulahrouz before Edwin van der Sar can gather.

2016: GOAL Netherlands 2-0 Italy
Who said Total Football was dead? Gio van Bronckhorst clears a corner off the line, then races down the other end and crosses for Dirk Kuyt to tee up Wesley Sneijder to volley expertly past Gianluigi Buffon. A dreamy goal that from the Dutch, with their gaffer Marco van Basten leading the applause.

2015: "The Italians are incensed, not surprising really. They were brave to show the replay of that goal inside the stadium."
BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury in Berne

2013: Luca Toni, incidentally, was booked for his protests after the Dutch goal was allowed to stand.

2011: GOAL Netherlands 1-0 Italy
Ruud van Nistelrooy puts the ball in the net from a laughably offside position four yards out, deflecting in Wesley Sneijder's shot after Gianluigi Buffon palmed out Rafael van der Vaart's deep free-kick. Pathetic decision from the assistant referee, but we've got a goal today at least.

2009: Brilliant free-kick from Wesley Sneijder that Marco Materazzi heads away from danger with Ruud van Nistelrooy ready to pounce.

2008: "(See 2002) Sadly, for Van Nistlerooy, that's what happens for playing honest football."
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2004: Wesley Sneijder flashes a left-foot volley over the bar as the Dutch continue to threaten.

2002: Remarkable. Ruud van Nistelrooy is sent through by Dirk Kuyt and as he rounds Gianluigi Buffon he is caught by the Italian's thigh, but instead of going to ground, he tries to stay on his feet and the chance goes begging.

2000: The Dutch enjoy some prolonged possession, with the two boys holding - Orlando Engelaar and Nigel do Jong- happy to pass it around. They finally get it to Ruud van Nistelrooy, but his turn and snap-shot from 30 yards fails to trouble Gianluigi Buffon.

1957: Real chance for Luca Toni, picked out brilliantly by Gennaro Gattuso's cross, but the Bayern Munich hitman gets his header all wrong and it sails harmlessly wide. This game has started well.

1955: The free-kick hits Andre Ooijer. Maybe next time.

1955: Ruud van Nistelrooy is impeded by Gennaro Gattuso on the edge of the box and this is in Wesley Sneijder territory.

1952: Italy are lively and it is they doing most of the pressing, prompted from midfield as they were two years ago by the sublime Andrea Pirlo.

1951: "If only Van Basten could play."
Kzrcfc26 on 606
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Ah, Marco van Basten. Just caught first glimpse of the Dutch coach - his goal in the 1988 Euro final makes me want to cry with joy sometimes.

1947: Great shout from my colleague Pranav, who reckons Christian Panucci, who just comically conceded a throw-in, looks like a young Jose Mourinho. Top chat that. Meanwhile, Antonio di Natale's cross just evades Luca Toni. The tempo is already better than the last game.

1946: Orlando Engelaar hits his first pass of the match out of play.

1945: Big Luca Toni gets us under way at the Wankdorf Stadium.

1944: My mate Pearlo reckons this is the game that really gets Euro 2008 under way. After six goals in five games, for once I'm praying he is right. Come on the Dutch and the Italians, come on!

1942: Massive shout out for the Italian players - absolutely hammering out their toon. Special mentions for Gattuso and Materazzi, the legends.

1940: "I've got an exam in five hours but EURO 2008 is more important. Obviously! Go Oranje!"
jonolacanola on 606
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I hope you're not based in Britain, otherwise that's massively unfair. The teams are out, by the way. It's anthem o'clock.

1938: I'm massively looking forward to watching Orlando Engelaar tonight. He's 6ft 5in and built like an actual house. He will sit in midfield while the likes of Dirk Kuyt, Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart get forward, so his role is crucial to Dutch hopes of success. He used to be a striker, so he should be able to hit them, too.

1934: So Italy are bidding to become only the third team after West Germany (1972 and 1974) and France (1998 and 2000) to hold both the World Cup and European Championship titles at the same time. As for Netherlands, they have not gone out of a tournament at the group stage since 1980. The two teams will both be captained by their goalkeepers - Gianluigi Buffon and Edwin van der Sar.

1930: "I'm all set for this one, wondering if there is still time to get my fluorescent orange windmill shaped hat out! Hup holland hup!"
Adriana in Sussex, via text

Well if it takes 15 minutes or less, of course you've got time - Oranjeboom!

1927: "I hope Cristiano Ronaldo will stay at Old Trafford - but if he wants to leave I am sure Manchester United will still win things. But I am sure that Ferguson will try as hard as possible to keep him at Old Trafford... it is never the right time to leave United."
The great Eric Cantona, on BBC Radio Five Live

Apparently King Eric didn't really watch the France game because he had other things to do. Lucky guy.

1923: "Where is Klaas-Jan Huntelaar? I got him for top goalscorer at 50-1 - no wonder if he's not playing. Kuyt is useless!"
Dan at work in Dundee, via text

There has been a real shortage of Klaas so far in this tournament, that's for sure.

1920: "At Wankdorf Stadium. Touts can't get tickets - they've been selling for 200-300."
BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury in Berne

1916: "What if everybody in the group decides to go for goalless draws all though the group stages? What would the first differentiating criteria be? Yellow and red cards?"
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I think if that happened, everyone would just stop living.

1913: Now then. I'm urging us all to put the past behind us and concentrate on Netherlands v Italy. The team line-ups worry me a touch, but surely we're going to get a much better game in Berne than we just had to sit through in Zurich? Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder, Andrea Pirlo, Antonio di Natale - we have never needed your beautiful football so much.

1910: TEAM NEWS Netherlands v Italy
Netherlands: Van der Sar; Ooijer, Boulahrouz, Mathijsen, Van Bronckhorst; De Jong, Engelaar; Kuyt, Van der Vaart, Sneijder; Van Nistelrooy.
Italy: Buffon; Panucci, Barzagli, Materazzi, Zambrotta; Ambrosini, Pirlo, Gattuso; Camoranesi, Toni, Di Natale.

1907: Player Rater - for what it's worth, Franck Ribery's done the best with 6.33 - surely one of the lowest winning scores in the long, illustrious history of Player Rater. Adrian Mutu is Romania's top scorer with 6.26, but if ever a match warranted a string of sub-seven scores, it was this one.
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Ilie Nastase and Michel Platini get better acquainted
Ilie Nastase and Michel Platini get better acquainted
1903: Oh goody, it's time to pick the Champagne Moment of the match. We've plumped for something that happened before the game even started - Romanian tennis legend Ilie Nastase and French football legend and Uefa president Michel Platini welcoming each other with a big smacker. Really, it's just better that we didn't pick anything from the game, don't you agree?

1900: "Shambles. Zizou must be turning in his retirement seat! This the exact thing France did in the last World Cup. Except now instead of Togo & South Korea they have Netherland & Italy!"
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1856: "We need some confidence, there will be a lot of doubts right now in that French team. They need something to happen in their next game, otherwise it could be too late."
BBC Sport pundit Marcel Desailly

1852: FULL-TIME Romania 0-0 France

1851: Banel Nicolita's cross is flicked on by Daniel Nicolae, but France survive.

1851: Claude Makelele gives away a free-kick on the right wing, not far away from the France box. Into the last minute, could it be...

1848: We're into stoppages. Three minutes extra will be added on.

1845: The Romanian fans are whistling three minutes before we even go into injury time - make no mistake, this would be a fantastic result for Victor Piturca's side.

1844: "Blimey, this is worse than watching England play."
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1842: Florent Malouda plays a blind pass straight out of touch, bemoaning the fact that Eric Abidal wasn't where Malouda thought he should be. It's not the best, I wish I had some beautiful football to tell you about, I honestly do.

1838: "Stevo, you're more like Dean Saunders than Malouda."
Anonymous, via text

1836: Christian Chivu hits one of the worst free-kicks ever seen, it flies miles over. Great news for Scottish fans though - Inverness striker Marius Niculae (no relation to Daniel) comes on for Adrian Mutu.

1835: Romania have a free-kick 30 yards out, primed for the left-footer Christian Chivu. Meanwhile, Arsenal target Samir Nasri comes on for Karim Benzema.

1833: Eric Adibal chances his arm from 30 yards but his left-foot drive flies wide of the target. Why on earth is he on the pitch ahead of Patrice Evra, I'm left wondering?

1829: The woeful Nicolas Anelka is taken off, with Bafetimbi Gomis coming on for him. Newcastle have been linked with Gomis this evening, for about 10m. Let's see what the 22-year-old St Etienne striker has got.

1827: To be fair to Romania, they are keeping the ball quite well when they get possession, something a few of the England boys could try one international. But they're not going to score, no way.

1824: "Much like Malouda, it looks like Stevo doesn't really know what to do (or to talk about) when the pressure is on."
The importance of being Didier on 606
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Being likened to Florent Malouda. My lowest moment as a journalist.

1822: Karim Benzema fashions a chance for himself after turning well on the edge of the 18-yard box, but he drags his shot wide and Nicolas Anelka cannot get a touch on it.

1821: I'm no prophet of doom, but if Euro 2008 is going to be like this we might as well stop bothering right now. France, you owe it to football to break these boys down right now. Romania bring on Paul Codrea for Razvan Cocis, who, unsurprisingly, has defended well.

1818: "(See 1814) 20p."
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Yeah cheers.

1815: Great spot from Franck Ribery. He gets into space down the right and brilliantly picks out Karim Benzema, 15 yards out. But he can only sidefoot straight at Bogdan Lobont - the Lyon youngster has been a been of a let down so far.

1814: If you really could buy a goal, how much would you spend on one right now?

1812: Eric Abidal gets away without a yellow card for a cynical trip on Banel Nicolita. From the resulting free-kick, nothing happens.

1809: Adrian Mutu clips the free-kick into the wall. Gutted.

1809: Adrian Mutu is hacked down on the edge of the box by Willy Sagnol, a silly challenge. He does get the ball, but he takes Mutu out first.

1807: Wow. I almost had a very large portion of humble pie to plough through. Florent Malouda beats his man about six times, twisting him inside out down the left before sending in a 15-yard scorcher that flies just past the angle of post and crossbar. Best moment of the game by miles.

1806: In a bid to liven up your afternoon, why not get involved in our brilliant You Are The Ref chat? It's top drawer, the drawings are awesome and it'll take your mind off this dull fare. Do come back though, please.
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1803: We are back under way in Zurich. There weren't any half-time changes, unfortunately for every single person watching this game.

1803: "A game is only as exciting as the person who reports on it. Carol Cheese would have found a way to keep us all on the edge of our seats. Somehow."
ruthere909 on 606
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Are you aware of the words you just used? Are you? Are you really?

1801: "Brainwave! Anelka is playing bad because he doesnt have his trusty No. 39 shirt!"
Henry, Surrey, via text

No, he's playing bad because at this moment in time, he's completely and utterly rubbish. Blimey, I've just hammered two Chelsea players in the space of two minutes. That'll get you lot messaging, surely...

1759: "Moulouda really is an awful player, why haven't Chelsea sold him yet? He did nothing all season and is doing nothing today."
PulpGrape on 606
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I agree. In the Champions League final he was useless as he was most of the season. If he's worth 13.5m, what does that make Cristiano Ronaldo worth to Real Madrid?

1757: The BBC telly boys (Hansen, Shearer and O'Neill) are hammering the French for their lack of endeavour, effort and creativity and it's hard to disagree with them. For all of you saying Romania are playing anti-football, who can blame them? We all saw it work for Greece and it's up to the teams with so-called bigger players to break those sides down - the quality of this tournament depends on them doing so.

1754: Some dour fare on offer in Zurich and the users of our Player Rater respond with some mediocre scores. France's Karim Benzema is the top man, and he's only got 6.98. What else? Franck Ribery has 6.72, Adrian Mutu has 6.78 - but no-one has set the rater ablaze. Maybe that will all change in the second half.
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1751: "Claude Makelele has been on the ball more than anyone else for France - he's your defensive midfielder, he shouldn't have that much of the ball! The French seem content with this but it's a stroll, it's remarkable they feel like this. It took Ribery 22 minutes to take someone on and Malouda 45 minutes to even try!"
BBC Sport pundit Martin O'Neill

1748: "It's dreadful - it's boring, but you can't blame the Romanians, this is how they played in qualifying. You have to move the ball quickly to get at them, but France haven't done that at all."
BBC Sport pundit Alan Hansen

1745: It's half-time in Zurich and it's really, really disappointing.

1745: "Surely it should be the Group of Life?"
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1742: Franck Ribery gets a cross in from the right and Razvan Rat directs it straight into the arms of Bogdan Lobont. Meanwhile, Dorin Goian is booked for a blatant obstruction on Ribery, who has got more into the game in recent minutes.

1740: "Stevo, how is Roland's brother doing for Romania?"
David, Glasgow, via text

The great Razvan Rat is doing just fine, thanks for asking (along with the other tens of you).

1737: You know I was bemoaning Miroslav Klose for being less selfish earlier? Well Nicolas Anelka tries a shot from almost on the goalline about 15 yards out - it would have defied the laws of physics if that had gone in and, worse, Karim Benzema was handily placed in the middle. Tut tut.

1735: It has been said a few times already, so here we go: Are Romania the new Greece?

1734: "I can see France failing to get out of the Group of Death... if this is so we should have a more friendly name for the group. Group of Justice, for example."
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1732: Nicolas Anelka heads over from six yards at the far post after France work a corner well. Difficult chance though, as it bounced before it got to the Chelsea striker.

1731: A good run across the pitch from Franck Ribery sets up Willy Sagnol to cross from the right, but it's a shocking effort and ends up miles over the bar. This game needs some inspiration.

1728: Someone has just texted in to ask me if I'm related to Claude Makelele. Er, no.

1725: Better from France as Florent Malouda gets away down the left and forces his way into the box, but his cross is headed away by Dorin Goian. Meanwhile, Daniel Niculae is booked in the France box for a blatant handball. He claims he was pushed, but his pleas fall on deaf ears.

1723: "Makelele should have been sent off for that challenge."
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1721: You've got to gamble there, Banel Nicolita. A cross comes into the box and William Gallas misses his header - but Nicolita had already given it up and the ball sails out for a goalkick. A few moments earlier, Claude Makelele had gone in with a very cheeky two-footed jump on Razvan Cocis. There wasn't intent to injure, but all the same, he should know better than that.

1719: I'm going to stick my neck out here and say I hope Romania don't win today, not playing this type of football. They can defend, but boy could we do with a Georghe Hagi-type figure today.

1717: Nicolas Anelka is so short of confidence, it's incredible he's starting this game. Bogdan Lobont races from his box to deny Florent Malouda, rushing on to Claude Makelele's long pass and the ball falls to Anelka. But he doesn't create a yard for a shot, he goes wide and then sends in a cross that drifts out for a goalkick. Disappointing.

1715: Daniel Niculae hits a volley from 30 yards that he drags wide after a neat header back to him from Banel Nicolita. Meanwhile, the sun comes out in Zurich.

1709: Karim Benzema, reportedly a big transfer target for Manchester United, lashes a left-foot shot over the bar from 25 yards.

1708: Half a chance that for Adrian Mutu, but his snap-shot from 16 yards is well blocked by Jeremy Toulalan. Up the other end and Nicolas Anelka crashes a shot wide from a tough angle as France countered.

1707: France are camped in the Romanian half. A extraordinarily negative start from the boys in yellow.

1705: "Romania are trying to get Banel Nicolita to run Eric Abidal down their right, but that just won't work, he'll never get past Abidal."
BBC Radio 5 Live pundit Chris Waddle

1702: France are bossing possession early on, but Romania are getting 10 men behind the ball, with Daniel Niculae ploughing a lone furrow up top.

1700: The Group of Death gets under way. Are you scared yet?

1658: Two properly rousing, humbling anthems are belted out. Gary Neville et al, take note.

1655: Lilian Thuram and Christian Chivu, two of the great defenders in world football in the last few years, lead out France and Romania at the Letzigrund Stadium.

1654: "I am really annoyed. I had the choice of Kuyt or Anelka for my dream team and chose Kuyt as I didn't think Anelka would play. I am very angry."
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Is that a bit like choosing between a punch in the face or one in the stomach? For those of you sending fantasy football/dream team chat in, please, please don't.

1651: "I'm going for a draw - I'm not siding with the favourites, can you believe it? I think Romania will sit deep and hit France on the break and I cannot believe the France team - I don't like Abidal, I don't like Malouda and I don't like Anelka."
BBC Sport pundit Alan Hansen

1649: "There can only be one man on earth who could have picked Abidal in front of Evra."
mu-tom on 606
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And what are the odds of that man being the manager of France, who actually gets to pick the team? I mean it must be like six billion-to-one or something.

1646: "Who's going to win the Golden Boot? I think it will be Luca Toni if Italy run the table, though I'd like to see Fernando Torres bag it."
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Is Luca Toni the most Italian sounding name there has ever been? I went for Miroslav Klose before the tournament, not realising he's suddenly become the most unselfish footballer on earth. Passing? That won't get you goals, Slavo.

1643: "Ha. Stevo that sounds like me - I've told almost everyone I know to get on the Romania bandwagon. Hey, I was right with Greece last time!"
Chris in Sheffield, via text

1639: "Oh no. Stevo your predictions exactly match mine. Does that make me useless as well?"
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Time will tell mate, but the omens aren't good - in 2000, I famously told a girl I was trying to impress to stick all her money on England winning the tournament. I think that's partly why people call me a clown. She certainly did, anyway.

1636: So what are Stevo's thoughts on Euro Two Thousand And Great so far? Well, the host nations are both rubbish - Uefa, have a think next time you give away two places, at least make sure one of them is awesome, like in 2000. Secondly, Cristiano Ronaldo really isn't as good for Portugal as he is for Manchester United, is he? And finally, who taught Miroslav Klose to pass? The great Gerd Muller must be disgusted with him.

1632: Romania have some history with Groups of Death. In 2000, they were expected to finish bottom of the pile including England, Germany and Portugal. They finished second, helped by Phil Neville's last-gasp suicidal tackle that cost Kevin Keegan's side a place in the quarter-finals.

1627: I know Raymond Domenech picks famously odd France teams, but even so - Abidal ahead of Evra? Malouda? Anelka? And with Gallas and Thuram at the back, I think they look beatable. Good for the tournament, however, that Franck Ribery is fit and that Karim Benzema gets an early chance to shine.

1624: TEAM NEWS Romania v France
France: Gregory Coupet, Eric Abidal, William Gallas, Willy Sagnol, Lilian Thuram, Claude Makelele, Franck Ribery, Jeremy Toulalan, Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka, Karim Benzema.
Romania: Bogdan Lonut Lobont, Cosmin Marius Contra, Dorin Goian, Razvan Rat, Gabriel Tamas, Mirel Matei Radoi, Cristian Chivu, Razvan Cocis, Adrian Mutu, Daniel Niculae, Banel Nicolita.

1622: My Euros came to life in stunning fashion last night when I rocked into a Polish bar to watch those boys take on Germany. Quite honestly I can't remember a boozer atmosphere like it - God only knows what would have happened if the Poles had bagged at any stage. Incidentally, bit of advice for the next game for the DJ who kept playing 'Polska' songs during the second half - there's a time and a place, son.

1618: "Am I the only one thinking that Romania could sneak through on the blind side of this group? I foresee many draws between the "big 3"."
Ash in Bolton, via text

No mate, you're not the only one. My mate Pearlo reckons Romania will get through too, but he's predictably unpredictable with his predictions. Stevo's predos for today? Romania 1-2 France and Netherlands 1-1 Italy. Don't forget, however, I am useless.

1614: Some more news just in - Manchester United have reported Real Madrid over their continued pursuit of Cristiano Ronaldo. My thoughts: "Oh hello, pot, it's kettle. Everything OK?"
Real reported over Ronaldo link

1610: There will be team news just as soon as we have it, rest assured of that. Meanwhile, get involved. Get involved like you never have done before - by texting on 81111 and by mixing it up with the rest of the 606 crew. Times like these, they don't come along that often. Remember that 350-mile round trip to watch your team lose 1-0 last season? This is your reward.
Join the debate on 606

1605: Some very early news for you - France captain Patrick Vieira has been passed fit to take some part in Euro 2008 after recovering from a left thigh injury, so Mathieu Flamini, who had been on standby, will leave the camp. Cue a wry smile from Arsenal fans...

1603: On this gorgeous summer's day, the warmest of welcomes to our coverage of what has been popularly dubbed 'The Group of Death'. There is usually one and this time it's a cracker - first up we've got Romania v France, followed by the mouth-watering Netherlands v Italy. Life, frankly, gets no better than this.

1600: Well you didn't think Cheesy would do every game, did you?




MATCH STATS: AT A GLANCE

POSSESSION

31% 69%
Australia Netherlands

Australia

  • 01 Schwarzer
  • 21 Carney
  • 03 Moore (52 Kisnorbo )
  • 02 Neill
  • 04 Cahill (48 Emerton )
  • 05 Culina
  • 08 Wilkshire
  • 13 Grella (16 Valeri yellow card )
  • 14 Holman
  • 10 Kewell
  • 09 Kennedy (47 Vidosic )

Netherlands

  • 01 Stekelenburg
  • 02 Boulahrouz
  • 03 Heitinga
  • 04 Mathijsen
  • 05 Van Bronckhorst (77 Braafheid )
  • 06 De Zeeuw (84 Mendes Da Silva )
  • 08 Schaars yellow card (64 Van der Vaart )
  • 10 Sneijder (69 Engelaar )
  • 07 Kuyt (51 Babel )
  • 09 Huntelaar
  • 11 Elia

Ref: Tojo Minoru
Att: 40537


Group C
17 June 2008 21:41
    P GD PTS
1 Netherlands 3 8 9
2 Italy 3 -1 4
3 Romania 3 -2 2
4 France 3 -5 1

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