Holland 1974
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Holland 1978.
Group 3, Sunday 23rd June 1974 (16.00):
Dutch flag Holland 4 Bulgaria 1 Bulgarian flag
Scorers -
Neeskens (pen) Neeskens (pen) Rep Krol (OG) De Jong
8 mins 45 mins 71 mins 78 mins 88 mins

Teams -
  8 Jongbloed  
20 Suurbier   17 Rijsbergen   2 Haan   12 Krol
  6 Jansen   13 Neeskens   3 Van Hanegem  
  16 Rep   14 Cruyff   15 Rensenbrink  

  15 Panov   7 Voinov  
11 Denev   10 Stoyanov   8 Bonev   6 Penev
5 Kolev   4 Velitchkov   19 Ivkov   18 Z. Vassilev
  21 Staikov  

Substitutes -
9 Mikhailov for 10 Stoyanov 46 mins
5 Israël for 3 Van Hanegem 46 mins
20 Borisov for 15 Panov 57 mins
7 De Jong for 13 Neeskens 78 mins
Unused Dutch Substitutes -
9 Keizer 11 W. Van de Kerkhof 18 Schrijvers

Cautioned - Jansen Van Hanegem Cruyff Denev

Dortmund Westphalia Stadium Referee - Tony Boskovic (Australia).
Linesmen - Eschweiler (W.Germany), Biwerski (W.Germany).
Venue - Westphalia Stadium, Dortmund.
Attendance 52,100.

Group 3 Table (after 2 games).
  P W D L F A Pts
Holland 2 1 1 0 2 0 3
Sweden 2 0 2 0 0 0 2
Bulgaria 2 0 2 0 1 1 2
Uruguay 2 0 1 1 1 3 1

  A win would have sufficed to take Bulgaria into the second phase, and a draw would have given them a chance depending on the Sweden-Uruguay result, but it was quickly obvious that, barring a small miracle, they would be going home as soon as the game was over.

  The game was not without its irony. Dimitar Penev and Christo Bonev had been in the Bulgarian side which had qualified for the 1970 World Cup at Holland's expense, and four of the current Bulgarians (Zonio Vassilev, Bozhil Kolev, Penev and Georgi Denev) had been in the CSKA Sofia side which had ended Ajax's long, legendary unbeaten run in the European Cup some seven months ago: Suurbier, Krol, Haan, Neeskens and Rep were all intent on revenge.

Line-up v Bulgaria - a rather poor photo, sorry.

Line-up against Bulgaria.
Cruyff, Jongbloed, Haan, Rensenbrink, Rijsbergen, Rep, Suurbier, Jansen, Van Hanegem, Krol, Neeskens.

  Needing only a draw themselves to qualify for the next phase, Holland turned the intensity up a couple of notches, and, after a somewhat shaky first half, ended up overwhelming a Bulgarian side who, even more than Uruguay before them, were ultimately reduced to chasing shadows around the pitch.

Would anybody notice if we swapped shirts now?
  Among the more vexing innovations brought in by FIFA for this World Cup was an irrational insistence on teams wearing their change strips for no good reason, and whoever decided Bulgaria would forsake their white shirts and play in red for this game must have regretted it the minute the teams took the field. Even the usual, hollow explanation about third-world viewers and black-and-white television sets would hold no water on this one. Holland's black shorts were the only distinguishing feature between the teams, and a Sunday League referee in Scarborough would have thought twice about letting the game go ahead.

  The game opened in a frenzy. In the first minute, Neeskens served notice of Holland's intent by blasting a shot from distance, calling Bulgarian goalkeeper Stefan Staikov into action for the first, but by no means last, time. At the other end, a mistake by Haan required Jongbloed to make a quick foray off his line to retrieve the situation. Rensenbrink set Cruyff away down the left, to be bundled over the touchline by Vassilev, Cruyff's own resultant free-kick demanding a nervous punch to safety from Staikov.

  For all Holland's first-half superiority, they would only manage a couple of goals from the penalty spot to show for their efforts. The first came when Cruyff cut into the area from the left along the goal-line and was rashly brought down from behind by Vassilev, the dive a little theatrical but the foul quite blatant if ill-advised. Although the spot-kick had to be taken twice, the referee apparently spotting encroachment by Rep, Neeskens's nerve didn't fail him.
Neeskens's nerve not failing him (thanks, Baz)

  Bulgaria tried to rally, and Bonev broke into the box, to be tackled by Jansen, but Holland were having far the better of it. Cruyff ran unchecked through the middle and passed to Neeskens, who hit the post, and Van Hanegem sent a wicked long ball to Rep in a dangerous position, the Dutch striker only just failing to control ball and give himself an easy chance. Rep's high cross from the right was headed by Neeskens, cleared urgently by a defender, and Rijsbergen sent Rensenbrink away from the Bulgarian defence, only for his shot to flash across the goal and past the post.
Neeskens and ... ... Rep in action against Bulgaria

  The Bulgarians were not here to be beaten, though, and did their best to make a game of it. Boitcho Velitchkov retaliated by sending the dangerous Denev down the Bulgarian left, though he looked suspiciously offside, and Jongbloed saved rather awkwardly. Then a shot by Bonev hit the bar, while Jongbloed was apparently waving at a friend he'd spotted in the crowd at the far end of the ground. Denev, again, found himself clear on the left, and set up a chance for Pavel Panov, which Jongbloed saved a bit more assuredly, but the Dutch were now convinced the linesman wasn't doing his job properly, and Van Hanegem conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position, and a caution, for speaking out of turn to the referee. Cruyff was also booked, for not retreating ten yards, and the kick was wasted.

  Getting a bit rattled now, the Dutch tackling became fiercer, as they began to battle their way out of a relatively tricky spell: the game should have been safe by this point, but the lead was still only a precarious 1-0, and tempers were becoming a bit frayed on both sides. Van Hanegem made for Cruyff a shooting chance, but the save was easy for Staikov, and Krol's cross towards Jansen ended up with the Bulgarian goalkeeper rolling around in agony at the Dutchman's feet, but no action was taken by a generally severe referee, and it's hard to see how Jansen could have hurt him that much, even if he had made contact. It all added to the tension. A snap shot by Panov whistled over the Dutch bar, a further reminder that, however great Holland's territorial supremacy, the contest was far from over.

  On the stroke of half-time, the second penalty was awarded when Jansen was played clean through on goal by Cruyff and Rensenbrink in the inside-right channel, the foul, committed by Velitchkov, more clear-cut this time, though the Bulgarians argued. The referee, beginning to have trouble keeping order, took out the yellow card, but didn't seem to wave it at any specific player. Neeskens blasted the penalty into the roof of the net, and Holland's lead was 2-0.

Cruyff and Rep mount another Holland attack
  After the break, the tough-tackling, dependable Feyenoord defender Rinus Israël replaced Van Hanegem, with Rijsbergen moving forward to give the Dutch midfield a more prickly look. Holland were now rampant, and could have had many more goals in this period. Suurbier's chipped cross from the right was met by Jansen, but the header went wide, then Cruyff's floated cross from the left was met right-footed but off-balance by Rep, and again the chance went begging. Another Cruyff-Rep combination led to Rep firing a powerful volley, with Staikov actually diving the wrong way, but the shot missed the target. Even Suurbier had a shot saved.

  The busy Bulgarian goalkeeper was (very harshly) penalised for taking more than four steps when catching a Jansen cross, Krol's drive from the free-kick being deflected to safety. Bulgaria were getting a bit desperate now, and substitute Atanas Mikhailov took a whack at Jongbloed when the referee had already blown for offside, just as the loudspeaker was announcing his name to the crowd, although he'd actually come on about 10 minutes before: they also brought on Krassimir Borisov, but neither sub made much impact on the game. Jansen, released somewhat from his defensive duties since the advent of Rijsbergen in midfield, played an inspired pass to Rensenbrink, who rounded the goalkeeper but couldn't keep control of the ball, and ended up hitting the post, a truly astonishing miss. Undeterred, Rensenbrink, his movement baffling the defence, hit another shot across the goal from some distance, then was taken out shamelessly by Vassilev, as Bulgarian frustration began to surface. Rijsbergen, a very decent midfield player on this showing, combined with Jansen down the left, and the excellent cross found Rensenbrink again unmarked, but his header was wide. By way of a reminder that there were two sides in the game, Voin Voinov broke the Dutch offside trap, only to be thwarted by a superb one-handed save by the grounded Jongbloed: maybe the Dutch would yet have cause to regret their profligacy in front of goals?

  A darting run from his own half by Cruyff brought another fine save out of Staikov. When Mikhailov was tackled by the sturdy Israël in the penalty area, the Bulgarians demanded a penalty, but the well-placed referee turned them down, and cautioned Denev for his voluble dissent. A brilliant dribble by Neeskens culminated in a cross to Rensenbrink, which the defence cleared with some difficulty. Cruyff and Vassilev, at loggerheads for much of the game, were involved in a rather unseemly flare-up, both players going down as if kicked by the other, but the referee, who would have needed the wisdom of Solomon to sort out who'd done what to whom and in what order, chose to take no action: Cruyff, already cautioned, might have considered himself a bit lucky.

  Bulgaria were finally undone when the third goal arrived. Rep scored with a fierce, instinctive volley after Cruyff's spinning free-kick from the right had been tamely headed in his direction by Vassilev, who had been unable to read the flight of the ball. Soon after, Rensenbrink worked the ball from the left to Cruyff, who swung his foot almost casually, but Staikov was at full stretch to save it under the bar. A break from Rep appeared to have ended when he was crowded out by the defence, but Suurbier followed up to good effect, and had another strong shot blocked by a goalkeeper who now stood between his team and a rout.

  But just as Holland's manifest superiority looked as if it was at last beginning to tell on weary opponents, the Bulgarians were thrown a lifeline. Krol conceded an own-goal as Denev attacked down the left, winning the race to the ball against forwards Voinov and Bonev, but only managing to place the ball past the stranded Jongbloed. We could all have done without the sarcastic pat on the back from Voinov, a player hardly qualified to be on the same pitch as Krol. This was of course the first goal Holland had conceded in the 1974 World Cup.

  At this point, the Dutch replaced Neeskens with Theo de Jong, the powerfully-built Feyenoord midfield player, but their superiority was still considerable. A long, looping cross from Cruyff on the left was met by a Rep header, and saved by Staikov, while at the other end Jongbloed made a fine double save from first Denev then Mikhailov. Cruyff set up a shot from Rijsbergen, the new playmaker, which Staikov, yet again, parried, but the alert Rensenbrink pulled the ball back for De Jong, who, incredibly, missed what was virtually an open goal. Rensenbrink then set about taking on the entire Bulgarian defence, and it took a last-ditch tackle to stop him.

  The best goal was the last, when Krol found Cruyff almost loitering out on the left wing. The Dutch skipper held the play up with an assuredness that, it might have seemed, bordered on laziness, but we all knew he was only waiting for the right moment to unleash the cross. Finally, it was De Jong who caught on to what was required, and darted stealthily behind the static defence. The ball was delivered, inch-perfect of course, before a Bulgarian could move, for the Dutch substitute to head home unopposed a truly classic goal and claim his own place in World Cup history.
De Jong heads the fourth goal for Holland...
.. and earns congratulations from Krol 
(note Cruyff turning nonchalantly away in background)

  Rep had one more chance to stretch the winning margin, bursting through on his own, but the left-footed shot hit the side netting, as the referee blew for full-time.

  With a few alarms along the way, Holland had achieved a splendid result, and ended their first phase campaign in some style, even if the margin of victory did scant justice to the extent of their supremacy. They qualified as Group winners ahead of Sweden, who clinched a spot in the last eight by beating Uruguay.

Group 3 Table.
  P W D L F A Pts
Holland 3 2 1 0 6 1 5
Sweden 3 1 2 0 3 0 4
Bulgaria 3 0 2 1 2 5 2
Uruguay 3 0 1 2 1 6 1

Holland qualify for Second Phase, Group A; Sweden for Group B.

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