Euro 2004: Netherlands vs. Latvia - 3:0
Netherlands 3, Latvia 0
Van Nistelrooy leads Dutch to quarterfinals.
Ruud van Nistelrooy scored two goals Wednesday to lead the Netherlands a 3-0 win over Latvia and into the quarterfinals of Euro 2004.
In the other Group D game, the Czech Republic beat Germany 2-1 to make sure the Netherlands could advance. The Czech Republic topped Group D with 9 points, ahead of the Netherlands with 4, Germany with 2 and Latvia with 1.
The Netherlands will play Sweden in Faro on Saturday.
Dutch captain Phillip Cocu said his team, leading 2-0 late in the second half, got a boost when the crowd cheered indicating the Czechs had gone ahead 2-1 in their game in Lisbon.
"It gave us an incredible shot of adrenaline," he said.
With a penalty and an easy header in the first half Van Nisterooy joined England's Wayne Rooney atop the Euro 2004 scoring list with 4 goals. Roy Makaay scored the final goal in the 84th minute.
The Dutch knew they needed at least a draw, but more likely a victory, to stand any chance of advancing to the quarterfinals. And they went looking for victory from the start.
In the 27th minute, midfielder Edgar Davids moved in from the left and weaved past two defenders before he went down just inside the penalty area with Vitalijs Astafjevs right behind him. Referee Kim Milton Nielsen ruled it was a penalty and Van Nistelrooy coolly converted.
The Manchester United striker scored his fourth of the tournament eight minutes later. Clarence Seedorf floated a freekick from the right, Philip Cocu headed back into the goalmouth and Van Nistelrooy scored an easy header.
In the 84th minute, Van Nistelrooy's substitute Makaay took a pass from winger Arjen Robben, turned in the center and the Bayern Munich striker beat goalie Aleksandrs Kolinko from 14 meters.
It rewarded the Dutch for relentless pressure for most of the game against a weak Latvian team.
Van Nistelrooy was always lurking on the edge of offside and, in sharp contrast to the first two games, the Latvian defense looks shaky throughout.
Kolinko pulled off several good saves to limit the damage. In the 40th minute, Van Nistelrooy could have scored a hat trick but Kolinko got his hands on the volley from 16 meters. Earlier he also denied the Dutch striker with a smothering block to stop a run through the center.
Latvia's only dangerous spell came just after halftime when Andrejs Rubins caught the defense off guard and forced goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar into a diving save. Valentins Lobanovs also came close with a low shot two minutes later.
Then, the momentum changed again, on the hour mark Van Nistelrooy tested Kolinko again from the right. Then the keeper from Russia's Rostov stopped a brilliant 25-meter drive from defender Michael Reiziger as he competed with Van Nistelrooy for the man of the match honors.
Near the end, the Dutch fan were shouted "Czech Republic" to cheer the team which kept Germany out and Oranje in the tournament.
The Netherlands brought back veteran defenders Frank de Boer and Reiziger for the crucial Euro 2004 match. Frank de Boer, 34, earned a record 111th international appearance for his country and replaced the injured Wilfred Bouma at the heart of the defense.
Reiziger, 31, replaced the suspended Johnny Heitinga at right back.
Coach Dick Advocaat has been increasingly criticized for his tactical choices after the Netherlands opened with a 1-1 draw and a 3-2 loss to the Czech Republic. He was roundly booed and whistled during the team presentation ahead of the game.
The 30,000-capacity Municipal stadium was mostly filled with orange-clad Dutch fans.
Netherlands - Edwin van der Sar, Michael Reiziger, Jaap Stam, Frank de Boer, Giovanni van Bronckhorst; Phillip Cocu, Edgar Davids (77th, Wesley Sneyder), Clarence Seedorf, Andy van der Meyde (63rd, Marc Overmars), Arjen Robben; Ruud van Nistelrooy (69th Roy Makaay).
Latvia - Aleksandrs Kolinko, Aleksandrs Isakovs, Igors Stepanovs, Mihails Zemlinskis, Olegs Blagonadezdins, Imants Bleidelis, Vitalijs Astafjevs, Valentis Lobanovs., Andrejs Rubins, Andrejs Prohorenkovs (74th, Juris Laizans), Maris Verpakovskis (62, Marians Pahars).
Referee: Kim Milton Nielsen, Denmark