Reuters Match Stats
July 4, 1998
MARSEILLE, France -- Dennis Bergkamp kept his cool to score a superb 90th minute goal that gave the Netherlands a controversial 2-1 victory over Argentina on Saturday and a place in the World Cup semifinals.
Argentina, in disarray after playmaker Ariel Ortega was sent off seconds earlier for butting Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, were exposed as captain Frank de Boer launched a 50-metre pass into the path of the striker they call "The Iceman."
His perfect first touch took him inside Roberto Ayala and his second drove the ball high into the net to set up a semifinal clash with champions Brazil on Tuesday in Marseille. Bergkamp called the goal the most important of his career and said Ortega's sending-off had motivated the tiring Dutch, down to 10 men after Arthur Numan was sent off in the 76th minute, to finish the game before extra time.
"There was everything in that match. The moment for us was when Ortega went off which gave us great energy," Bergkamp said. It was the first time the two teams had met since Argentina beat the Dutch in the 1978 World Cup final. Ortega claimed he had been tripped by Jaap Stam in the area and was about to be booked by Mexican referee Arturo Brizio Carter for diving. Then he hit van der Sar's chin with the top of his head on getting to his feet and was shown the red card.
Argentine soccer chief Julio Grondona said Ortega's dismissal was a "very controversial move." ``Depending on how you see it, it was on the one hand a clear penalty and on the other open to doubt," he said. "In that same moment Ortega was taken out of the game because he approached the goalkeeper and the goalkeeper threw himself backwards as if he had been killed.
"Whether it changed anything or not, it was something that happened and that casts doubt on the outcome." The Dutch will be appearing in their third semifinal, the last being in 1978 when they went on to lose the final to Argentina 3-1. Brazil beat the Netherlands 3-2 in the 1994 quarter-finals. The Dutch had much the better of the second half after a first 45 minutes full of chances at both ends.
Both sides hit the post in the first period -- Wim Jonk for the Dutch after just five minutes and Ortega for Argentina just before the break. But in between, both scored excellent goals. In the 12 minute Ronald de Boer began a sweet Dutch move from deep in his own half, slipping past three defenders as he drove towards goal. He picked out Bergkamp on the left of the area and the striker cushioned a header into the path of Patrick Kluivert who coolly slotted the ball past Carlos Roa.
Argentina equalised six minutes later when Claudio Lopez timed his run to perfection to spring the offside trap and latch on to Juan Veron's pass. He delayed his shot before poking the ball through the legs of Van Der Sar.
Both sides continued to go forward, with Veron and the Netherlands' Edgar Davids ignoring the taxing heat to work tirelessly in midfield. The Netherlands spent the opening 20 minutes of the second half camped in the Argentine half but despite endless possession could not find the final pass to get through. On Argentina's first foray forward, 20 minutes after the break, the impressive Veron released Batistuta who cut inside and smashed a shot against the post with van der Sar helpless.
But the Dutch continued to control the midfield, constantly trying to release Bergkamp and Kluivert with quick passes. They brought on winger Marc Overmars in the 64th minute and he immediately provided a great cross from the right, only for Roa to tip over Kluivert's header at full stretch. But they suffered a blow in the 76th minute when Numan was sent off for his second bookable offence -- a late tackle on Simeone.
Argentina, who were unable to score against England when they had a man advantage for more than an hour in the second round, immediately pressed forward. Again, however, they were unable to break down a well-organised defence.