Netherlands beat Czech Republic 2-0

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Netherlands have registered a two-nil victory at home to the Czech Republic in their opening World Cup group one qualifier.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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Netherlands have registered a two-nil victory at home to the Czech Republic in their opening World Cup group one qualifier. A good result was crucial for the Netherlands, who were looking for a positive start to their 2006 campaign under new coach Marco van Basten. The Dutch failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup and are desperate not to miss out on the next one as well. The two teams faced each other recently in Euro 2004, with the Czechs rallying from a two-goal deficit to win three-two in a thriller. The Netherlands were set for avenge that defeat this time around, but it was the visitors who had the best chances in the opening phase of the match. Within the first ten minutes, Rene Bolf came close for the Czech Republic, the ball going just wide of the post. Six minutes later the visitors were denied the lead again, this time thanks to some solid goalkeeping from Edwin van der Sar who deflected this shot from Tomas Rosicky to safety. Liverpool striker Milan Baros then had his turn after 25 minutes - van der Sar once again coming to Holland's rescue. The home side had their first real chance a minute later, but this weak effort from Dirk Kuijt was easily saved by Petr Cech. Then against the run of play, the Netherlands took the lead. Pierre van Hooijdonk found the net following some brilliant play from Rafael van der Vaart in the 33rd minute. That goal seemed to restore some confidence back into the Dutch side and they were able to defend their advantage into the break. The Czech Republic weren't out of it yet however and they soon came close to an equaliser at the start of the second half. The Netherlands were fortunate that this header from Jan Koller just hit the crossbar and then bounced away to safety. The pace of the match then slowed, until the 78th minute when the Dutch ought to have doubled their lead. Van Hooijdonk once again bore down on goal, but his shot was aimed straight at the 'keeper and was easily saved. Moments later however the Dutchman made up for his error, scoring his second of the night to give the Netherlands a two-nil lead with just seven minutes remaining in the match. The visitors created one more chance to pull a goal back though, Marek Jankulovski produced the shot, but once again van der Sar was there to save the day. The Netherlands held on for the two-nil win and take three valuable points from their opening World Cup qualifier in group one.(AP)

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