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World Cup Soccer Recap (Netherlands-Croatia)

Posted: Sat July 11, 1998 at 5:50 p.m. EDT

CROATIA 2, NETHERLANDS 1

Forward Davor Suker scored his World Cup-leading sixth goal in the 36th minute to give Croatia a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands in Paris and a stunning third-place finish in its first appearance in the tournament.

After receiving a pass from Zvonimir Boban on a breakaway, Suker struck a left-footed shot from the left side of the penalty area which went through defender Jaap Stam's legs before settling in the back of the net inside the right post.

Croatia, a war-torn nation that did not even exist as recently as the 1990 World Cup, opened the scoring in the 13th minute on a goal from Robert Prosinecki, his second of the tournament. Prosinecki became the only player to score for two different nations in the World Cup. He scored when playing for Yugoslavia in the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Eight minutes later, Boudewijn Zenden equalized for the Dutch with an individual effort capped by a long-range swerving shot with the left foot, past goalkeeper Drazen Ladic. It was Zenden's first international goal for Holland.

Croatia scored the first goal in all of its matches except a 1-0 group loss to Argentina.

As he did throughout the tourney, Dutch forward Patrick Kluivert missed several good scoring chances. In the eighth minute, he received a pass from Clarence Seedorf, spinned away from two defenders and took a 12-yard shot from in front that was blocked by Ladic.

Seedorf was quick on a free-kick restart in the 20th minute with a pass to Kluivert all alone in the penalty area, but again his shot was stopped by the 'keeper.

In the 40th minute, Dennis Bergkamp sent a pass to Kluivert, who crossed the ball to Seedorf in the box. But Seedorf's header was directed straight to Ladic.

In search of the tying goal, the Dutch were the more aggressive team in the second half, while the Croats dropped back, defending the lead. Seedorf had what appeared to be a goal disallowed by an offside call in the 54th minute.

Zenden set up Kluivert from the right side in the 72nd minute, but his nine-yard shot was blocked by a defender. Kluivert's last and best scoring chance came in the 79th minute after a pass from Seedorf. Kluivert turned a defender before taking a clear-path shot off target beyond the right post.

Two minutes later, Kluivert passed to Seedorf, who missed a scoring opportunity when Ladic made a left-leg save.

Despite outshooting Croatia 20-5 in the match -- including 12-4 in the first half -- the Dutch were unable to convert further scoring chances. They also had six corner kicks to Croatia's one.

Croatia completed its first World Cup with a 5-2 record and an 11-5 goal differential. The Netherlands went home with a mark of 14-10-8 and a goal differential of 56-36 in seven Cups. The Dutch are regarded as the best soccer nation never to have won the World Cup.

This was the fifth consecutive time two European sides met in the third-place match and the first time the Netherlands played the penultimate game. The "Clockwork Orange" lost in the 1974 final to host West Germany and to Argentina in the final four years later.

Referee Epifanio Chavez Gonzalez of Paraguay issued yellow cards to Krunoslav Jurcic, Igor Stimac, Aljosa Asanovic and Mario Stanic of Croatia and Edgar Davids and Wim Jonk of the Netherlands.

© 1998 Sportsticker Enterprises, LP



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