'Ruud' awakening, Dutch hold Germany 1-1

Dutch marksman Ruud van Nistelrooy netted nine minutes from time to deny Germany victory in a 1-1 draw.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:07 IST
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Dutch marksman Ruud van Nistelrooy netted nine minutes from time to deny Germany victory in a 1-1 draw in a volatile Euro 2004 Group D match. With time running out it looked like Torsten Frings' strike on 30 minutes would be enough to clinch a win for Germany over their arch rivals. But van Nistelrooy had the last say as he hooked in Andy van der Meyde's cross to volley the ball into the German goal. Hits and misses With two minutes gone a straight ball through the middle almost found van Nistelrooy but the striker could not control and the chance went begging. Giant defender Jaap Stam, bound for AC Milan, was detailed to mark Germany's lone striker Kevin Kuranyi but lost track of the VfB Stuttgart man in the 22nd minute when he fired a fierce shot forcing Edwin van der Sar to tip over. In the 29 minute the red torch paper was lit with Dutch midfielder Phillip Cocu clattering into Philipp Lahm by the byline. German coach Rudi Voller leaped from the dugout to voice his frustration at the tackle on 20-year-old Lahm. Less than 30 seconds later Voller was jumping out of his seat with joy as Germany scored a bizarre goal. From the resulting free-kick Borussia Dortmund midfielder Torsten Frings curled an in swinging cross into the area and the static Dutch defenders failed to clear as the ball bounced into the net. Van Nistelrooy had claimed the team that had scored the first goal would win - but he was wrong. Host of substitutes After a promising start the Dutch looked off the pace and manager Dick Advocaat responded by warming up a host of substitutes. It seemed to act as a wake-up call to the 1988 champions who almost leveled on 41 minutes with Ajax star Rafael van der Vaart, 21, drilled a left-footed shot narrowly wide of Oliver Kahn's left hand post. Advocaat dragged off Edgar Davids and Boudewijn Zenden in the half-time interval with Ajax ace Wesley Sneijder and Marc Overmars taking their place. "We had to take risks to get back into the game," explained Advocaat. "We could not supply our forwards as the Germans were so well organised." Group wide open The draw leaves the group wide open although the Czech Republic are in the box-seat having defeated tournament debutants Latvia 2-1 earlier. It spoilt the day of German captain and goalkeeper Oliver Kahn who had wanted to celebrate his 35th birthday with a win. Van Nistelrooy said: "We deserved that goal. You aren't going to create many chances against the Germans, but we kept fighting and saved the point. "We finished the game on a high and got the most out of the game because defeat would have been disastrous." German coach Rudi Voller yesterday said his side had lost their attacking edge in the second half. "We put in a very good performance in the first half and deserved to lead 1-0 at half-time but we were too defensive in the second half. "We've lost nothing but then we haven't won anything either." (PTI)