The Netherlands pay back controversial loss to Argentina
Posted: Saturday July 04, 1998 03:33 PM
PARIS (CNN/SI) -- Call it divine retribution. Call it long-awaited revenge.
Call it fate. Call it whatever you will. Holland's victory over Argentina in
the World Cup quarterfinals was all this and more.
The last time they met in the World Cup was in the 1978 final when
Argentina won 3-1 on home soil after extra time. Rob Rensenbrink hit the
woodwork in the last minute of regulation time, denying the Dutch their
first first world title.
Holland refused to attend the post-match ceremonies after Argentina's
alleged stalling tactics before the match, when they came out late and
questioned the legality of a plaster cast on a Dutch player's wrist --
allowing tension to build for the visitors in front of a hostile Buenos
An eight-year-old Dennis Bergkamp remembers watching the match. He cried
after the defeat. He also longed to be part of such an occasion one
How fitting then that Bergkamp, now one of the world's most accomplished
strikers, scored the winning goal in the last minute as Holland beat
Argentina 2-1 in Marseille. The tears now belonged to the Argentines and
How apt also that the winning goal came so soon after Argentina's Ariel
Ortega had been sent off -- a kind of final rebuke for Ortega's despicable
First Ortega dived in the penalty area when Jaap Stam stuck out a leg to
challenge him. That earned the Argentine playmaker a yellow card.
When Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Saar went over to confront Ortega about
his play-acting, Ortega appeared to head-butt van der Saar. He was
immediately sent off.
Earlier, Holland had been reduced to 10 men for a clumsy, and certainly not
malicious, tackle on Captain Diego Simeone. Remember him? He's the one who
fell like a ton of bricks when England's David
Beckham retaliated to a heavy-handed challenge from the Argentine in the
Once again Simeone was so "badly hurt" here he had to be carried from the
pitch for treatment.
Argentina has some fine players, but it also has some of the finest theater
performers this side of Broadway. The histrionics are reprehensible.
Sir Bobby Charlton, one of the great World Cup legends, told me just this
week how unhappy he was with all the elaborate falling and diving in the
modern game -- and especially at France '98.
"One little touch," he said, "and the hands come up, the mouth opens wide
and they fall like they've been hacked down. It's getting out of hand."
And it's not just Argentina. Many teams are guilty of this. That's why it
was so refreshing to see a referee penalize a top star for trying to win
his team a penalty and the game.
World Cup quarterfinals should not be won by cheats.
Holland is through to face Brazil in the
semifinals -- and that's gotta be good for the World Cup and football as a