THE HAGUE (AFP) - Dutch defender Andre Ooijer conceded on Saturday that he had deliberately handballed a shot from Thierry Henry in their Euro 2008 Group C clash with France on Friday.
The 33-year-old veteran told the website of Dutch magazine Sportweek that it should definitely have been a penalty which if converted would have brought the sides level at 1-1 - the match ended however in a 4-1 humiliation of the French.
"There should have been a penalty from Thierry Henry's shot," said the Blackburn Rovers defender.
"I stopped the ball with my hand.
"Without that there would have certainly been a goal."
Ooijer's words, though not confirmed by any other publication, supports what beleaguered French coach Raymond Domenech said earlier on Saturday.
"There was a turned down penalty appeal which could have changed the course of the match, the referee is the only one not to have seen it," said Domenech, who added that the referee (Herbert Fandel) should go out and buy some glasses.
The resounding defeat has left France needing to beat world champions Italy in Tuesday's final match to have any hope of reaching the last eight and that Romania don't defeat Holland, who have already qualified for the quarter-finals.
BERNE, Switzerland (AFP) - The battered and bruised France team woke up Saturday morning still barely able to believe how Holland had inflicted their worst defeat in almost three decades the night before.
Goals from Dirk Kuyt, Wesley Sneijder and second half substitutes Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben knocked the stuffing out of France and left the Oranje army marching on to join Portugal and Croatia in the last eight.
France now need to beat world champions Italy in their last Group C game in Zurich on Tuesday and at the same time pray Romania don't grab all three points from the buoyant Dutch.
What was most galling for Les Bleus was that their worst defeat since 1982, a 4-0 friendly drubbing from Poland, came despite them playing with attacking vigour and creating a multitude of chances.
For France keeper Gregory Coupet, in his first major competition since taking over the mantle as number one from Fabian Barthez, he was left to contemplate his worst night for Les Bleus.
"It's not the end of the world but it's a huge knock. I've never had such a reverse on the international scene.
"But we weren't humiliated, we had chances. As for them, they had an incredible success.
"Now we have to lean on the good atmosphere in our group in a bid to bounce back against Italy."
Coupet added: "The Dutch have players of great quality. Honestly, that team has everything!"
Thierry Henry, who scored France's consolation goal, described the loss as "difficult to accept".
The Barcelona striker took issue with German referee Herbert Fandel for not giving a penalty in the 50th minute when Andre Ooijer appeared to get a hand to his shot.
"I saw Ooijer touch the ball with his hand. He should have had a red card. Referees see things differently."
France's all time top scorer with 45 goals added: "It's hard because on the commitment and playing level we weren't ridiculous. But at the end of the day we were up against a Dutch side in great form.
"It was a bizarre game, I haven't had many like that in my career where we had lots of opportunities, we played well, but at the end we lost 4-1.
"Now we know that we have to beat Italy whilst Romania must beat Holland. It's 'doeble' but it's' going to be a knife edge game with the Italians."
For Bayern Munich defender Willy Sagnol the lopsided scoreline didn't do justice to the game.
"4-1 doesn't reflect what happened," he said.
"The Dutch were efficient but we produced some interesting play. When they didn't have the ball they weren't comfortable. But hey, they scored at the best moments."
Attacker Sydney Govou was having difficulty accepting the bare facts of the defeat.
"4-1 - it's far too heavy a defeat. Their success is insolent."
Chelsea's Claude Makelee, who picked up a yellow card, felt the Dutch's early first goal via Kuyt's header had been decisive.
"Conceding an early goal destabilised us. We were well in place but they did what they had to. They made us run.
"We came back to 2-1 which gave us time to breathe then their third goal cut the ground from under our feet.
"It's a shame. Now we have to try to win the last match. It doesn't only depend on us, there's also the result of the Dutch game against Romania.
"But we have to remain solid and try to go all out in the last game.
"If we're going to leave we have to leave with our heads held high."
The mood over in the Dutch camp was understandably very different.
"Pinch me to show I'm not dreaming," said van Persie, who with Robben came on as a second half substitute.
"I've had a difficult season, but what we're experiencing at the moment makes me forget my black period.
"We really weren't expecting to beat the world champions and the vice woorld champions!"
Robben, like van Persie back from injury and who produced Holland's third goal, an unbelievable effort from an impossibly tight angle, added: "It's amazing to join a team like this. This is a deserved success which must be put down in a large part to the daring of coach Marco van Basten."
BERNE, Switzerland (AFP) - Dutch coach Marco van Basten went out of his way to allay fears from France and Italy that his already qualified side would take their foot off the pedal for their remaining Group C match.
Holland's brilliant 4-1 win over France here Friday left Raymond Domenech's team and the Azzurri facing elimination.
For either side to be certain of scraping through as group of death runners up they need a result on Tuesday and also for Holland to beat Romania.
A win for Romania would see Victor Piturca's underdogs slip through at the expense of the champions and vice champions from the 2006 World Cup.
Van Basten, asked if he would rest key players like goalscorers Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie in Tuesday's academic final first round game, shrugged his head.
"I don't know, I'm very happy that we beat France, that we're qualified.
"To be number one in our group is very positive for us but it's our obligation to our players and the fans to take this last game against Romania seriously.
"The result may not be important to us but we have to approach it in an efficient manner.
"We don't have to win but we will try and score and see what happens.
"I'm not going to think about losing against Romania just to eliminate France and Italy. I'm not thinking at all about them, we have to take care of our game.
"I'm very happy we beat France and tomorrow I'll start thinking about the Romania game.
"We try to prepare for every game seriously."
A first half header from Dick Kuyt then goals from second half substitutes Robben and van Persie and man of the match Wesley Sneijder did it for France who grabbed a consolation from fit again Thierry Henry.
Van Basten explained why he'd brought on Robben and van Persie for the start of the second half.
"It was necessary as in the first half we didn't have enough space. With Robben and van Persie they're two players who can go deep and it gives the team more room."
Reflecting on his side's performance at the Stade de Suisse the Dutch boss who is moving on to coach Ajax next season added: "I'm very happy. To beat Italy 3-0 and then France 4-1 you can only be happy.
"We started well, with a good goal from a corner. Then we were forced to defend as France gave us a lot of pressure and created some difficulties.
"But my team was able to defend, and did it quite well.
"Then in the second half Robben came on and that helped us. We were much more dangerous. France tried everything to make life hard for us, bringing on (Nicolas) Anelka and (Bafetimbi) Gomes but in the end we made some good goals from counter attacks."
BERNE, Switzerland (AFP) - France stood on the brink of elimination Friday after Holland maintained their dream start with a 4-1 win over the 2000 champions here to book their place in the quarter-finals
Goals from Dirk Kuyt, Wesley Sneijder and second half substitutes Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben knocked the stuffing out of France and left the Oranje army marching on to join Portugal and Croatia in the last eight.
For France, this defeat, coming on top of their opening draw with Romania, meant their first major finals without Zinedine Zidane are turning into a nightmare and they now must beat world champions Italy in their final Group C clash.
With just one point they not only need to beat the Azzurri but also pray Holland can beat Romania, who are on two points, also on Tuesday.
"As long as our destiny is in our own hands we can go through. We must not give in. We must play a high-level match we are capable of" against the Italians," said France coach Raymond Domenech, who wielded the axe on the side that failed to fire in the goalless draw with Romania.
He notably brought back Thierry Henry, who at least netted a consolation.
"It's a shame," said Henry. "At 2-1 we could have given them cause to doubt, but they got their third right from the restart. Now we have to go out and beat Italy."
In contrast to Domenech, his Holland counterpart Marco van Basten was a picture of contentment, the former Dutch great saying: "We can only be happy after first beating the world champions 3-0 and France 4-1.
"We were a little lucky today, we made goals at the right time. I want to congratulate our defence and the whole team for their healthy spirit.
"To be number one in the group is very positive for us."
Aside from the inclusion of Henry, France's all-time top scorer, who was fully recovered from a thigh problem that kept him out of Monday's drab opener.
Domenech also introduced Sidney Govou, this pair replacing Nicolas Anelka and Karim Benzema.
Domenech made one further switch, replacing defender Eric Abidal with Manchester United's Patrice Evra while Patrick Vieira was on the bench.
Van Basten in contrast to his Gallic counterpart, adopted the maxim 'if it ain't broke don't fix it', naming an unchanged side from the one that felled world champions Italy 3-0 in their opening Group C game with Robben, who missed that game with a groin strain, starting on the bench.
France from the off were a more urgent purposeful and menacing outfit compared to four days ago in Zurich with Franck Ribery and Florent Malouda combining well up the left flank.
But the Dutch it was who took a 10th-minute lead, Kuyt heading in Rafael van der Vaart's corner from the left to the delight of the fans, who included Johan Cruyff at the Stade de Suisse.
The draw earlier Friday between Romania and Italy meant France really had to get something out of the game or face having to pack their bags.
With their backs to the wall they only had one option - to attack - and in the 22nd minute went close to equalising when Ribery played in a great ball from the right only for Dutch keeper Edwin van der Sar to save Govou's angled shot.
Down at the other end Sneijder, who had left such a mark on the Italian defence, tried a long range effort which was safely gathered up by Gregory Coupet.
As half time approached Henry, who had not seen much of the ball, showed what a threat he could pose when turning on the edge of the box and shooting just over the crossbar.
Van Basten introduced Robben for Orlando Engelaar at the start of the second half which was barely seconds old when Henry flew in a cross from the right only for Giovanni van Bronckhorst to knock it to safety.
In the 50th minute the French then made heated protests for a penalty claiming Andre Ooijer had handled a shot from Govou in the box but they were dismissed by German referee Herbert Fandel.
"It's a shame there was no recourse to video," said Domenech afterwards.
France were all over the Dutch at this point and Malouda's enterprising overhead bicycle kick found Henry on a one-on-one with van der Sar but the Barcelona striker's extravagant lob went sailing over the bar.
Van Basten them made his second switch, bringing on van Persie for Kuyt.
Both his changes proved masterful as in the 59th minute Robben raced down the left wing to cross for van Persie whose shot slid over the line despite Coupet getting a hand to it.
France got the goal they deserved in the 71st minute after a cute angled cross from Sagnol was flicked past van der Sar by Henry near the far post.
But that only served to spur the Dutch on and one minute later a flash of individual brilliance from Robben made it 3-1, the winger racing down the left and shooting high into the near corner of Coupet's goal.
Sneijder rounded off the night, flashing in the fourth in injury time.
The only consolation for him and his team came from the spirited manner that France succumbed to a Dutch team that underlined its status as one of the favourites for the European crown.
BERN, Jun 13 (SW) - The Netherlands booked their place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 with a 4-1 victory over France, clinching first place in Group C.
The Dutch went in front on nine minutes when Dirk Kuyt headed home a pinpoint corner kick by Rafael van der Vaart, right in front of Florent Malouda who never looked to located the incoming ball.
France then took over control of the game and always looked the more likely of the sides to score the next goal, but Edwin van der Sar made several good saves to keep the French out of the net and carry the 1-0 lead into halftime.
Following the introduction of both Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben, the two combined to extend the Dutch lead just shy of the hour mark when Robben crossed in for van Persie to shoot on target, hitting it right at Coupet, but the ball trickled over the line.
Twelve minutes later, Thierry Henry brought France back into the game when he touched home a right-wing cross from Franck Ribéry. But 45 seconds later, Robben made it 3-1 as he was played through at the left-hand post by Wesley Sneijder and smashed into the top corner from a tight angle in front of defender Lilian Thuram.
Wesley Sneijder then hit a brilliant goal in injury time to cap off another great performance.
The French are left on one point from two matches along with Italy, both behind Romania in second with two points.
BERN, Jun 13 (SW) - The Netherlands can clinch first in Group C of Euro 2008, but France will have other plans. SoccerWay keeps you up to date with the latest from Bern.
Current score: 4-1
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FULL-TIME: The final whistle blows and the Netherlands have won Group C in convincing style with six goals in two games to book passage to the quarter-finals. It's a disappointing result for France, but they are far from out of it, needing a strong performance against Italy and some help from the Dutch against Romania to get through.
Minute 90+2: GOAL NETHERLANDS (4-1) WESLEY SNEIJDER puts the punctuation on the thrashing, hitting a turning shot past Coupet from the top of the area. Brilliant strike from Sneijder to cap off the victory.
Minute 90: Robben looks for his second has he cracks just wide of the post.
Minute 88: Free kick by Ribéry from 25 yards goes narrowly over the top, but doesn't trouble van der Sar.
Minute 86: Anelka's foray into the area is thwarted by Joris Mathijsen.
Minute 83: Nigel de Jong sends in a great ball for van Nistelrooy who attempts to lift it over a charging Coupet, but he doesn't get enough and Coupet is just able to retreat in time to keep it out of the net.
Minute 82: Jérémy Toulalan goes into the book of referee Fandel.
Minute 82: Makelele slips in the area as the ball drops favorably in the area. Missed chance there for France.
Minute 79: Van Basten now opts for a defensive change, removing van der Vaart and inserting Wilfred Bouma to counter the bevy of strikers on the pitch for France.
Minute 77: Ribéry's free kick comes off the shoulder of Henry who was trying to head it in, and it goes over the top.
Minute 75: Nicolas Anelka replaces Govou up front for France.
Minute 72: GOAL NETHERLANDS (3-1) ARJEN ROBBEN scores immediately back and from an impossible angle. The winger receives service deep into the area by Sneijder and scores from just about on the end line into the top corner. What a swift answer. Questionable defending by Thuram.
Minute 71: GOAL FRANCE (2-1) THIERRY HENRY gets the slightest of touches to a cross by Sagnol from the right side thanks to some slack Dutch defending and they are back in this thing.....but wait....
Minute 70: Sneijder's free kick looks for Ruud van Nistelrooy at the backpost, but Coupet claims it.
Minute 67: Govou flicks it goalward, but it fails to trouble van der Sar.
Minute 63: Robben wants this one for himself taking a left-footed drive from the center of the pitch, but it stays low and Coupet makes a nice save.
Minute 61: Ribéry takes a deflected shot on goal that van der Sar somewhat swats out of the way.
Minute 60: Needing central attackers, Batefimbi Gomis comes on to replace Malouda. First switch for Raymond Domenech and France.
Minute 59: GOAL NETHERLANDS (2-0) ROBIN VAN PERSIE scores and it appears to be a master stroke by Marco van Basten as both substitutes combine for the goal. Robben streaks down the left and sends in a sublime cross into the six-yard box and van Persie gets it to trickle over the line after hitting Coupet. Brilliant play by Robben and tactical genius apparently by van Basten.
Minute 58: Free kick for the Dutch is charged down by Malouda, who was well short of 10 yards back, but no whistle.
Minute 56: Robben gets into it with a cross from the left onto the head of Sneijder, but it's right at Coupet.
Minute 55: And now it's Robin van Persie appearing for the Dutch, with goalscorer Kuyt coming off.
Minute 54: Henry misses an open net! Malouda overheads it beyond the Dutch defense and the French all-time leading scorer opts to lob the keeper and he misses well high. Poor shot by Henry.
Minute 52: Pretty cheap yellow picked up by Ooijer as he tussled in midfield, but he's booked nonetheless.
Minute 49: Ever so close for Henry! He's clear in the area with a shot at a wide open goal, but André Ooijer gets there to block it. But was it handball? Fandel says no and we play on. Dangerous from France.
Minute 47: Henry centers the ball, but it's cleared before anyone can get to it. The resulting corner amounts to nothing.
Minute 46: The Dutch will clearly be going after more here as Arjen Robben is on for Engelaar. The second half is underway.
HALF-TIME: The Dutch have the lead on the goal by Kuyt, but the French have had the better of the play for a lot of the first half. Both teams have questions to answer for the second half.
Minute 45: Malouda crosses in for the run of Govou, but van Bronckhorst is there to thwart the chance.
Minute 43: First true chance for Henry, but his shot goes wide of the goal.
Minute 41: Sagnol crosses into the area, but the ball is beyond everyone.
Minute 38: Wesley Sneijder gets into the action with a long shot on target, but it bounces into the arms of Grégory Coupet.
Minute 37: Ribéry's cross from the right is touched forward toward goal for Henry, but Boulahrouz touches it away.
Minute 35: Orlando Engelaar gives it up in midfield and Ribéry continues the good spell here for France as he runs forward into the area, but his shot is again stopped by van der Sar.
Minute 34: Malouda takes a low shot from 35 yards with blistering pace, but van der Sar does nicely to gather without a fumble. Then Govou gets a crack at the goal from the top of the area a few moments later, but again van der Sar is up to the task.
Minute 32: Claude Makelele goes into the book for getting a piece of van der Vaart's neck.
Minute 32: Malouda cuts the ball back into the area for Govou, but his shot is blocked nicely by Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
Minute 27: Khalid Boulahrouz takes a crack from a tight angle and it blazes across the face of the goal with no one there to latch on.
Minute 26: The pace had picked up for a bit there, but it's calm once again in Bern with possession being the name of the game.
Minute 23: It's brilliant ball-handling by Govou, and a good save by Edwin van der Sar. Willy Sagnol crosses into the area, and Govou chests down before half-volleying into the leg of van der Sar.
Minute 20: Kuyt tries to latch on to a ball headed into the area by Lilian Thuram, but it goes out for a goal kick.
Minute 15: Game is now pretty much being played in the midfield following that opener.
Minute 9: GOAL NETHERLANDS (1-0) DIRK KUYT puts the Dutch in front early! Rafael van der Vaart sends in a corner kick to the near post, but Malouda was clueless where the ball was and Kuyt beat him to the spot to head home.
Minute 6: Florent Malouda puts in a cross for Ribéry, but the header is wide. France looking much better already.
Minute 2: Franck Ribéry sends in a free kick, but the ball goes over to the Dutch.
Minute 1: Herbert Fandel blows the whistle and we're underway!
Pre-Game: France had a poor showing in their goalless draw with Romania in their opener, and they make three changes to their squad, including both central attackers. Both Karim Benzema and Nicolas Anelka are on the bench with Thierry Henry now up front and Sidney Govou likely not far behind him while Patrice Evra is preferred at left-back to Eric Abidal.
Pre-Game: The Netherlands can clinch first place in Group C today with a victory following Romania's 1-1 draw with Italy, and not surprisingly the Dutch go with the same squad that comprehensively beat the Azzurri 3-0.
BERN (SW) - After their stunning 3-0 win over Italy on Monday, the Netherlands look to achieve another positive result against World Cup runners-up France in the second match.
Marco van Basten's men will be confident ahead of the clash with France, but several players stressed the importance of staying focused.
It is still unsure whether winger Arjen Robben is to make an appearance against the French, although he did train with the rest of the selection on Thursday.
Reserve striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar will not be available due to a calf injury and Mario Melchiot is struggling with a groin injury.
Dutch defender Khalid Boulahrouz feels that it is too early to celebrate: "We have done a good job and made an excellent start, so the spirit and belief have increased.
"We just have to keep on working towards the France match the way we did before the Italy game. We may have beaten the world champions, but we have not achieved anything yet. We will only see at the end what we have managed."
It is expected that France manager Raymond Domenech makes four changes to his starting line-up. Star players Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira are both good candidates to make their comeback after injuries.
Thierry Henry seemed to be in good shape during an extra practice match against a local team earlier this week. The Barcelona striker even scored a goal in that game.
Other likely options for the French line-up are Sidney Govou and Samir Nasri.
France will need to show a better display than they did against Romania, in what was easily one of the least attractive matches at Euro 2008 so far.
In their last meeting, a 2004 friendly, the two sides held each other to a goalless draw. Four years earlier, the Netherlands beat Les Bleus 3-2 at the European Championships but both teams had already qualified for the next round and a defeat was in fact a better result for the French due to venue locations in the quarter finals.
Excluding that match, the last time the Netherlands beat France was in a World Cup qualifying match in 1981.
Referee for this match is German Herbert Fandel, with linesmen Carsten Kadach and Volker Wezel and fourth official Grzegorz Gilewski of Poland.
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|13-06||Holland cruise into quarters, France on verge of elimination|
|13-06||Quick Report: Netherlands 4-1 France|
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