Top 100 World Cup Moments (From the Aussie P.O.V.): 49-Bergkamp Brilliance Wins Holland The Battle of Marseilles (1998)

Following their epic wins in the second round, much was to be expected of the quarter final clash between Holland and Argentina at France ’98. The third match of the quarter finals, the showdown would be played out at the Stade Velodrome in Marseilles in front of a rabid crowd of some 70,000. The Argentinians had squeezed past the English in their round of 16 game by the barest of margins (and dodgy red cards) with a penalty shootout win while a bit of Edgar David’s magic (and a poor penalty by the Serbs) had seen the Dutch make it to the quarter finals for the second time in a row.

The Argentinians had started the tournament strongly and despite the possible hiccup against the English were looking like a team to go all the way. Up front they had the former Perth resident and world class striker Gabriel Batitstuta (he lived in City Beach) with support from poacher Claudio Lopez and the poor man’s Diego Maradona in Ariel Ortgea. You didn’t think he was a Diego wannabe? Well, did he have a perm? Yes. Did he have the number 10? Yes. Did he play behind the strikers? Yes. Enough said. The Dutch who were under the tutelage of Guus Hiddink had started slowly but had gradually built up momentum with the brilliant Dennis Bergkamp slowly getting back to full fitness and Patrick Kluivert finally starting to find form.

A shootout was expected and demanded from those of us watching this one. With a Mexican ref seemingly giving every 50-50 call to the Argies it was the Dutch that had the first chance when Wim Jonk (the token crap players Hiddink seemed to have in every squad he has ever picked for a World Cup) had a clear shot on goal thanks to great lead up work, the shot crashing in to the upright. It wouldn’t be long though before the Dutch were ahead. Ronald De Boer passed after a patient build up to Bergkamp who in turn headed down brilliantly for Kluivert to score his first goal in the tournament after 12 minutes.

This seemed to wake up the Argies and it wasn’t long before they had grabbed an equaliser out of the sky. On 18 minutes Veron burst through the Dutch midfield and caught the Dutch defence off guard with a brilliant pass, the ball slipping to Lopez who beat the offside trap, rounded the keeper and finished easily. The rest of the first half was ran by the South Americans with Ortega hitting the left post after his long range effort and captain Diego Simeone being set up by Batistuta, his shot going inches wide of the right hand post.

1-1 at half time.

For the first 20 minutes of the second half the Dutch dominated possession and played a patient game with their efforts to build up an attack out of a mobile defence constantly being thwarted by the Argies. It was Argentina who had the next big chance when on 65 minutes Batistuta had a fierce left foot shot bounce back out after hitting the inside of the left upright. Both sides were starting to tire and the odd not so nice tackle that they could get away with in the first half were now late and a little dangerous. One such tackle was from the already booked Dutch defender Artur Numan in the 76th minute when he took out an opposition player who was steaming through the midfield, way too late and clumsy.

The Mexican ref thought this was a good time to give Argentina the advantage and gave Numan his matching orders for a second bookable offence. Numan spat the dummy and had to he pulled away from the ref but Hiddink wasn’t concerned with such petulance, he was making moves to have the Dutch play as best they could with 10 men and keep the score at 1-1. The Dutch did play well with 10 men for 10 minutes with Argentina failing to make any inroads on the Dutch goal and the men in orange having large periods of time in possession.

This may have been getting on Ortega’s nerves and he tried going for the theatrics to try and win the game for Argentina. In the 88th minute a through ball was put through for Ortega who tried to dance around two defenders. When trying to push past the two minders he fell to the ground like he had been shot to try and milk a penalty, the referee said that was not happening.While the ref ran over to give Ortega a yellow card for diving the keeper Van Der Sar dashed off his line and over to the prostate Argentine, proceeding to give a mouth load of abuse. Ortega reacted by leaping up off the ground and headbutting Van der sar, knocking the beanpole to the ground.

Was it a proper headbutt? Well maybe Van Der Sar milked that too but he got more out of his one. The ref put his yellow card back in his pocket and proceeded to give Ortega a straight red, 10 men on either side and extra time looking likely. With extra time beckoning Dennis Bergkamp decided to make one of the most memorable of moments. About a minute after the sending off of Ortega three magical touches happened that would give anyone who loves this sport chills. First Bergkamp brilliantly brought down a long high pass from Frank De Boer deep inside his own area who had pinpointed the number 10 with radar like precision. Secondly, Bergkamp knocked the ball through experienced Argentina defender Roberto Ayala’s legs for a surprise nutmeg, the only time you would ever see the legendary Ayala caught cock in hand like that. Lastly, he expertly judged the bounce of the ball and volleyed into the far corner to score an amazing, emotional and above all winning goal to make it 2-1 from out of nowhere.

Bergkamp ran to the sideline and the Dutch fans who were going ballistic before he was mobbed by his teammates. A brilliant bit of audio of a Dutch radio station is available online and is quite emotional to say the least. The baffled South Americans knew they were beat thanks to some magic from the Arsenal striker and tried to find an equaliser but the Dutch had their tails up, 2-1 at full time.

A game that had everything including tantrums, hard tackles, red cards, desperation and a classic winner. The Dutch would march on to the semi final stage to play Brazil while the Argentinians were out. It was the first time the Dutch had made the semi finals in 20 years. This match in Marseille on a hot Saturday afternoon (or cold winter night in Perth) was a classic for the ages.

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

Comments

  1. The announcement that ‘with a heavy heart I feel this is the right decision’ will come as a bitter blow to Fulham fans who must feel like they are reliving history as these were the same words Hodgson used upon his ill-fated arrival at Liverpool.

    Concerning their rosters, they are totally stacked.
    He coached the Washington Wizards for only two seasons,
    after which he returned to the networks as a commentator.

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