France go down to Flying Dutchman

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Dirk Kuyt, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder scored for the Netherlands, while Thierry Henry scored for France.

The Dutch hit their stride from the offset and deservedly went ahead in the ninth minute when Kuyt headed home a corner by Rafael van der Vaart.

Although Marco van Basten’s side enjoyed the better of the first half, France did manage a rare threat on goal in the 35th minute, but Dutch keeper Edwin van der Sar produced a good save to deny Franck Ribery.

The score remained 1-0 at half-time.

The second half was much better than the first for pure entertainment value, with four goals coming in it.

The introduction of Robben and Van Persie in the opening stages of the second period added another dimension to the Dutch, but it was France who imposed themselves early on, and they had a penalty appeal turned down in the 49th minute when Henry’s shot hit the arm of Andre Ooijer, but the referee had it spot-on.

Henry wasted a glorious chance minutes later when he was played clear by Florent Malouda, but the Barcelona striker’s lob over Van der Sar sailed over the crossbar as well.

Holland doubled their lead in the 59th minute following a lightning quick counter-attack, culminating in Robben crossing for Van Persie to slot home from close range.

The goal seemed to be the wake up call for the Frenchmen, who pulled a goal back in the 71st minute when Henry steered home a cross by Willy Sagnol.

However, Holland restored their two-goal cushion a minute later through a brilliant strike by Robben from a tight angle.

France imposed themselves in latter stages of the game with Henry and Patrice Evra going close.

But the Netherlands ensured they had the last say when Sneijder rounded off the scoring in the 92nd minute with a superb strike from just outside the area, to secure their passge to the quarterfinals.

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