Sarpong brace sends Netherlands through (0:2)
The Netherlands have reached the semi-finals of the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005. The European Championship runners-up beat the USA 0:2 in a thrilling encounter, with Jeffrey Sarpong finding the net twice for the young Oranje. The Ajax midfielder is making a habit of scoring crucial goals: he struck in injury time of the final European Championship qualifier to keep his team's dream of World Championship participation alive.
Both teams made changes to the line-ups that started their final group games. The United States introduced four new faces to the starting eleven (Kevin Alston, Quavas Kirk, Ryan Soroka and Neven Subotic), while the Netherlands made two alterations, captain Dirk Marcellis and Melvin Zaalman making way for Erik Pieters and Marvin Emnes to hand goalkeeper Tim Krul the skipper's armband.
The match began brightly with the Netherlands dictating the pace. John Goossens sent a deep cross from midfield into the run of Diego Biseswar, only for the Feyenoord Rotterdam striker to send the ball beyond the far post (4'). The Americans did not have to wait long for their first chance, Preston Zimmermann firing over (8') after meeting a corner on the volley. The USA were growing in confidence and Quavas Kirk also shot over the bar just a minute later. A horrific incident followed when Kevin Alston left the field with a broken left tibia after a John Goossens foul (16').
Interrupted by the US player's untimely departure, the game lost momentum slightly and it was 15 minutes before entertainment resumed. Jeffrey Sarpong missed a good opportunity from 15 yards (38') before Kirk was thwarted by the assured goalkeeping of Tim Krul (39'). David Arvizu then found himself in a good position three against two shortly before the interval but Krul held safely on to his shot (43'). Just when the first half appeared certain to end in stalemate, the Netherlands struck: Vurnon Anita did the groundwork, and Sarpong fired home from eight yards (0:1, 45+1').
The Americans almost restored parity when Kyle Nakazawa sent a free-kick crashing against the crossbar (56') and were firmly in the ascendancy midway through the second period. Arvizu sent a shot narrowly over the target (61') before Ruud Vormer issued a timely reminder that the Netherlands were still a goal threat (68'). The Europeans now constrained themselves to playing on the counter-attack as the Americans dictated the game and pressed for the equaliser.
Red card wrecks USA revival
Neven Subotic's dismissal for a second yellow card with a quarter of an hour to play was a set-back for the US recovery effort, but Dutchman Jordi Buijs restored the balance in personnel when he also received a second yellow for a foul (78'). Jeremy Hall then sent a free-kick flying narrowly wide (79') before the decisive second goal came six minutes from time: Sarpong soared down the left wing, crowning his fine solo run with an ice-cool finish (0:2, 84'). Vormer could have made the result even more emphatic with a headed chance (89') before Sarpong missed a hat-trick opportunity (90').
Netherlands coach Ruud Kaiser was relieved to see his team progress: "That was a very difficult game for us. My players looked tired after the difficult match with Gambia, and the US players were fresher. That was why it was so difficult for us. The US played a good game."
US coach John Hackworth was disappointed: "Losing Kevin Alston affected our game and we had to re-adjust. I feel sorry for the youngster. He has broken his leg but these things happen in football. You have to be able to cope with it. We tried everything in the second half but the Netherlands played fantastically and would not give us a goal. Congratulations to them."