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13 June 1998 Group E Saint-Denis - Stade de France
Netherlands Belgium
European neighbours and Group E rivals Holland and Belgium shared the spoils in a frustrating encounter in front of an expectant 75,000 crowd in the Stade de France, St Denis. The battle of the Lowlands had been billed as a mighty confrontation between two countries that had met on 119 previous occasions, but disappointingly resulted in the 26th draw after a goalless stalemate. Belgium will be delighted with their point, having set their stall out to achieve exactly that outcome from the first whistle, but the Dutch will look back on squandered chances after dominating the possession. Holland opened brightly enough with Overmars posing such a constant threat down the Belgian right that his marker, Bertrand Crasson was replaced on 22 minutes by Eric Deflandre in an attempt to nullify the major Dutch attacking source. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, only playing due to Dennis Bergkamp's lack of match fitness, had a glorious chance to open the scoring after six minutes but screwed a right-foot shot wide of the target. Holland continued to press forward with a patient passing build-up that seldom troubled the Belgians, who were content to see their opponents play pretty football in front of them. Despite ten Dutch goal attempts in the first half Belgium 'keeper Filip De Wilde was only called upon to make one save from Ronald de Boer's low shot on 14 minutes. Nilis and Oliveira hardly had a kick between them in the opening 45 minutes as Belgium were happy to sit back, but Wilmots so nearly scored right on half-time in a rare attack following Danny Boffin's excellent cross. After the interval, little changed, apart from a couple of efforts from the previously quiet Luc Nilis and a great chance for Dennis Bergkamp on as a 65th minute substitute for Hasselbaink, but for once this season the Arsenal striker missed the target. The major talking point came on 80 minutes when Patrick Kluivert was sent off for apparently elbowing Lorenzo Staelens. Video evidence later showed that the Dutch striker had barely touched the defender but he will still miss the next game against South Korea. Mexico top the group after their victory against ten-man South Korea this afternoon and all four sides are still in with a plausible chance of progressing to the second stages.
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