Holland 3-0 Italy
Monday, June 9

Robin van Persie enjoyed a cameo role as Holland recorded a hugely-impressive 3-0 win over Italy in their opening Euro 2008 game.

Marco van Basten's side took the game to the world champions and were rewarded after 26 minutes when Ruud van Nistelrooy converted Wesley Sneijder cross-shot from close range. The Real Madrid striker was clearly offside but, to Italy's dismay, the goal stood.

The Azzurri went close to an equaliser five minutes later when Gio van Bronckhorst cleared a header off his own line. Within seconds, Holland had doubled their advantage after a classic counter-attack. Van Bronckhorst, having denied Italy a goal, charged down the left and picked out Dirk Kuyt with a cross-field pass. The Liverpool striker nodded the ball down to Sneijder, who volleyed smartly past Gianluigi Buffon.

Buffon made a fine save to deny Van Nistelrooy on the stroke of half-time but could not keep out Van Bronckhorst's header from Kuyt's cross following another sweeping breakaway from the Dutch with 10 minutes left. Once again Holland had turned defence to attack in an instant; seconds before, Edwin van der Sar had kept out Andrea Pirlo's free-kick.

By now Van Persie was on the pitch - he replaced Van Nistelrooy with 20 minutes left - and the Arsenal forward looked sharp after recovering from a thigh injury. He wriggled past two challenges and flashed a shot just wide of Buffon's far post as Holland threatened right to the final whistle.

The Dutch now face France in Berne on Friday.

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10 Jun 2008