With three teams on three points in Group D, the Netherlands need to pull out all the stops to join in the fun.
Standing in their way, as usual, is Germany.
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Netherlands 1 – 2 Germany
19.31 – Michel Platini has been around with team-sheets, ta Mick.
No changes for either side. Holland persist with Robben and RVP. Germany have no cause to shuffle the pack.
Germany: Neuer, Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Muller, Ozil, Podolski, Gomez.
Subs: Wiese, Gundogan, Schmelzer, Howedes, Schurrle, Klose, Bender, Mertesacker, Kroos, Gotze, Reus, Zieler.
Holland: Stekelenburg, Van Der Wiel, Heitinga, Mathijsen,Willems, Nigel De Jong, Van Bommel, Robben, Sneijder, Afellay, van Persie.
Subs: Vorm, Bouma, Kuyt, Huntelaar, Vlaar, Schaars, Strootman, Luuk De Jong, Narsingh, Boulahrouz, Van der Vaart, Krul.
19.46 – Ger Canning and Ray houghton – RTE’s commentary dream team, apparently – have pointed out that our referee for this evening, Jonas Eriksson is a millionaire.
The unbribe-able* ref blows the whistle and we have KICK OFF.
*Not that we’d insinuate that any particular ref could be bribed. Perish the thought.
19.54 – The Oranjes have most definitely been first out of the traps here. As you’d expect it has been a little cagey, but a straight ball over the top from Sneijder sprang the offside trap with van Persie on the run.
The Arsenal striker was at full stretch but could only get a make a stud’s worth of contact and Neuer gratefully collected.
19.57 – Arjen Robben looks to be a man back in form. He has taken on Lahm a number of times and now has dribbled at the heart of the German defence.
He slipped a delicate through-ball into the path of RVP, but it was on the striker’s right boot, so he pulled it wide.
20.09 – GOAL: Netherlands 0 – 1 Germany (Gomes ’24)
Mario Gomez has given Germany the lead with an absolutely brilliant goal.
After calm buil-up on the right Schweinsteiger picked the ball up in acres of space 25 yards from goal.
He resisted the urge to shoot and instead passed through for Gomez. The Bayern striker had his back to goal, but turned instantly with deft touch of his left boot before spinning to finish on his right.
Holland are in trouble.
20.23 – GOAL: Netherlands 0 -2 Germany (Gomez ’37)
It’s that combination again. Schweinsteiger, given the run of the final third, picks a pass for Gomez in the right-hand channel and he delivers another spectacular finish.
How did Chelsea win the Champions League? Gomez has just taken a fraction of a second to side-foot his shot across Stekelenburg and into the top corner.
20.27 – Just seconds before the goal came, Badstuber had missed a glorious opportunity to put the ’96 champions 2-0 up.
An Ozil free kick from the right hand side was deflected into his path and from all of four yards he managed to head the ball straight at the ‘keeper.
20.34 – HALF TIME: Netherlands 0 – 2 Germany
And it could easily be more. The half ends with a viscously in-swinging Schweinsteiger free kick.
Stekelenburg does extremely well to back pedal and stop the cross dipping underneath the bar.
Does anyone know the Dutch for sayonara?
20.50 – Bert van Marwijk has thrown the kitchen sink at Germany, but his daughter won’t be happy.
Van Bommel is called ashore for Rafael van der Vaart and Klaas by name, class by nature, Jan Huntelaar is on the field in place of Afellay.
Will we have one the greatest ever comebacks? Or will the artists formerly known as boring boring Germany hold tight.
20.57 – Double save from Stekelenburg has denied Mats Hummels a Sammer-esque goal after the defender dribbled from his own half to the edge of the box.
The first shot hit the boot of the ‘keeper and beyond Gomez. Hummels had another bite at the cherry and Stekelenburg threw himself full-stretch to the right to tip it round the post.
At least one of the Dutch team is still trying.
21.03 – A quick nose through our mailbag / comments section… thanks to Gis Bayertz who points out the Dutch for ‘see ya, wouldn’t wann be ya’ is tot ziens.
We’ll be using that in a headline later.
And to Ferg Breen who points at Robben, you can console yourself that it will be a terrible and short tournament.
Meanwhile in Kkarkiv, RVP has powered a low drive on target, but with 30 minutes still on the clock there is only one side I would bet on to score next.
They wear white and you don’t write them off.
21.14 – Sneijder, on the left, chips one in to Robben. The Madrid man takes it on the chest, and volleys with his left, but it is harmlessly wide.
The Oranjes are making some half chances like this, but the pressure is nowhere near sustained….
As I say that, Sneijder pops up on the left side of the box and his powerful curling shot is destined for the corner but Jérôme Boateng puts his torso on the line to protect the clean sheet.
21.15 – GOAL Netherlands 1 – 2 Germany (van Persie ’72)
The comeback is on. Germany sat back and invited van Persie to dribble from the left toward the box.
The defender seemed happy for him to have space on his weaker right foot, but the Arsenal skipper blasted the shot through Hummels’ legs and into the bottom corner.
Three fantastic goals here.
21.22 – The vast orange tracts of Metalist stadium are in full voice now with 12 minutes to go. Holland believe, but Germany still look dangerous on the attack.
21.27 – Klaas Jan Huntelaar has given Schweinsteiger a clip round the ear.
Dirk Kuyt has been thrown into the fray in place of Robben.
The Bayern winger reacts to that decision with typical professionalism, hopping over the advertising hoarding and straight off down the tunnel.
21.29 – What’s this? A singing telegr… oh, just an e-mail.
It’s from Ronan kealy, one of many who is unhappy with the standard of RTE commentators who are not Brian Kerr. He says of Canning:
“I think he should either start doing the weather with all his ‘warm’ and ‘humid’ comments or either take over from Marty doing the Eurovision.”
That’s the place for him, alright.
21.38 – FULL TIME: Netherlands 1 – 2 Germany
The Germans in the end were content to run the clock down, they are the only team with two wins from two games.
Holland are as good as out. They’ll need a three goal win over Portugal (combined with a Danish loss) to sneak through to the quarter-finals.
21.42 – With the usual craic - whining and in-fighting – dogging the Dutch they noticeably wilted after their initial bright start.
Wesley Sneijder, after slamming ‘pathetic egos’ in the build-up could not be counted in the same bracket as… oh, I don’t know: Arjen Robben. Sneijder put his heart and soul into the game and was the man sprinting to close down German players in his own half when they were set to run the clock down.
21.47 – Well that’s it from me. The group of death has given the Netherlands a mortal wound. Join us tomorrow for all the nerve-jangling build-up to the games in Group C.
Call me crazy, but I’m beginning to believe we’ll pull off the shock of all shocks – a draw.