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25 June 1998 Group E Saint-Etienne - Stade Geoffrey-Guichard
Netherlands Mexico
Holland and Mexico shared the honours in a topsy-turvy Group E encounter at the Stade Geoffroy- Guichard, St Etienne, with this 2-2 draw meaning that both sides now qualify for the last sixteen, following Belgium's 1-1 draw against South Korea. Mexico, for the second game running, looked dead and buried at 2-0 down, but came back to force a draw, as late goals from Ricardo Pelaez and Luis Hernandez cancelled out first-half strikes by Holland's Philip Cocu and Ronald de Boer. Going into the match, both Guus Hiddink's Dutch side and Manuel Lapuente's Mexican side had won one and drawn one and were level on four points, but with the Belgians - on two points - expected to beat South Korea there was still plenty to play for. From the first whistle the confident Dutch continued where they had left off against South Korea, with their total football reaping instant reward, as Dennis Bergkamp's instant control and glorious throughball sent Cocu clear to fire home his second goal of the tournament after just four minutes. The Mexicans were stunned into immediate action and retaliated with Ramirez firing in a 25-yard effort which Edwin van der Sar did well to parry. After 19 minutes the Dutch doubled their tally when the excellent Ronald de Boer latched onto Cocu's flick and showed great persistence before finishing cleverly with a reverse shot underneath Jorge Campos and in off the post. At this stage it appeared a question of "how many?" for Guus Hiddink's side who continued to pass and move, play and rotate, totally baffling the Mexicans, whose heads had gone down further in the knowledge that Belgium were leading in Paris. Bergkamp was almost gifted a bizarre goal on the half-hour mark, when Claudio Suarez's attempted pass across the edge of his own penalty area was intercepted by the Dutchman's reaction header, that had Campos scampering back to claw the ball around the post. Then just before half-time Overmars broke through to clip a delicious chip over Campos but inches wide of the far post. Mexican coach Lapuente, in need of some divine intervention, introduced Jesus Arellano as a second-half substitute in place of the anonymous Braulio Luna, obviously hoping that the 25-year-old winger would have the same impact as in the previous match against Belgium. The change seemed to have the desired affect as the Dutch decided to sit back on their two-goal cushion and the introduction of 35-year-old veteran striker, Pelaez, on 55 minutes, showed that if Mexico were to go out of this world Cup then they would attempt to go out with honour. It was evident that the improvement in the Central Americans also coincided with the European side taking their foot of the gas, but Mexico also received a huge lift on 71 minutes when news filtered through that South Korea had equalised against Belgium. Just four minutes later Pelaez reduced the deficit as his 12-yard header from German Villa's right-wing corner crept through a crowded goalmouth. At this stage it was all Mexico and on 88 minutes Blanco thought that he had equalised only to be given offside, and to make matters worse, Ramirez was sent off for dissent at the referee's decision. Nevertheless the ten men of Mexico had the last laugh as awful defending by Manchester United's recent 10.5 million signing, Jaap Stam, let in Hernandez for his third goal of the championship. The draw means that Holland top Group E and will play Yugoslavia, the runners-up in group F in Toulouse on Monday night, whilst Mexico finish as runners-up and will play Germany, the winners in group F in Montpellier on Monday afternoon.

(1-0) Cocu (4). Having received a ball from Ronald de Boer just over the halfway line, Bergkamp's elegant control and precision pass over the Mexican defence sent his strike partner clear on goal to outstrip Diulio Davino for pace before firing home a first-time left-footed shot low past Campos and just inside his left-hand post from 16 yards.

(2-1) Pelaez (75). Villa's corner from the right was hit high towards the penalty spot where the veteran striker climbed high to beat his marker Frank de Boer and send a downward header goalwards, but when Reiziger competed with Blanco for the vital touch both missed the ball and distracted 'keeper van der Sar as the effort bounced into the left side of the goal.

(2-0) de Boer, R (19). Cocu's attempted pass looped into the air on the edge of the Mexican area but the striker competed for the loose ball and nodded into the path of Ronald de Boer, who shook off the attentions of Carmona and Suarez before sliding home a right-footed shot beneath Campos and into the net off his right-hand post from 12 yards.

(2-2) Hernandez (90). Pelaez challenged for a long clearance and the ball deflected off Frank de Boer's head in behind the Dutch defence, where Stam, appearing to have the situation under control, somehow missed his kick, allowing the Mexican striker to nip in and poke home right-footed under the 'keeper from 12 yards.

 
 
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