Late strike sends defensive Welsh back home with nothing despite Southall's heroics

Gullit (83′)


1990 World Cup Qualification
UEFA – Group 4
Video: full game
Olympisch Stadion, Amsterdam
Att.: 58,000
Matchday programme: 2,75 Guilders
Wed. 14 September 1988
Kick-off: 8.15pm
Ref.: Jan Damgaard (DEN)
L1: Peter Mikkelsen (DEN)
L2: John Pallesgaard Nielsen (DEN)


Like today’s counterparts, the Netherlands did not have a fixed home ground, playing their internationals in various stadia, though usually in either Rotterdam (in Feyenoord’s ground) or Amsterdam (at Ajax). Unfortunately, the Dutch were at this time all too familiar with hooliganism, and some of their support were among the most feared in Europe. Indeed, their final home qualifier ahead of West Germany ’88, against Cyprus, had been annulled due to crowd violence, and had later been replayed behind closed doors. They would be hoping for better behaviour from their fans for this opening fixture as they looked to open their ‘road to Italy’ account with a win. A win seemed essential, as West Germany had already opened their account through that highly impressive 4-0 win in Helsinki. 

Netherlands team news
The Netherlands had not been in action since the 2-0 win against the Soviets in the summer’s final. They would see ten of the eleven players from that triumph in Munich take to the field here in Amsterdam, with only elegant Ajax veteran Arnold Mühren absent. He had since retired from international football, and at the age of 37 it had hardly come as a surprise.


Drafted into the starting eleven in his place was the more physical Hendrie Krüzen, signed by champions PSV from Den Bosch during the summer. Krüzen had a fine goalscoring record for a midfielder, though he was a novice at international level, winning his fourth cap here. He was the only player in the home side’s eleven on single appearance figures. However, he had been a selectee in the summer’s European Championships squad. Among the hosts’ substitutes, only Ajax stalwart Sonny Silooy had not been present during the Euro (due to an injury). Under new manager Libregts, the Dutch were expected to continue in their 4-4-2 like formation.

Additional five players had been part of Libregt’s squad but were axed from the match day selection: John van ‘t Schip (Ajax, 24), Rob Witschge (Ajax, 23), Sjaak Troost (Feyenoord, 29), Hans Gillhaus (PSV, 25) and Wim Koevermans (Groningen, 28). Aron Winter (Ajax, 21) had also been a member of the squad, but had to withdraw with an injury.

Wales team news
Wales came into the new campaign without two of their most recognized defenders in injured Everton duo Van Den Hauwe and Ratcliffe. The latter had been the Wales captain in recent years, so this task would now fall to Ian Rush, one of their two super strikers. Manager Terry Yorath, who had replaced Mike England since Wales’ last qualifying campaign, had brought two players with him from his Swansea team, and both midfielder Alan Davies and tall defender Alan Knill, a non-cap, would surely notice the big step up from the third tier of English football to international level. Apart from debutant Knill, there was also the youthful presence of Chelsea’s teenager Gareth Hall in the Welsh defence, so the absence of the seasoned Everton duo had sure left some voids for Yorath to fill. Hall had made his debut only earlier in 1988, and his Chelsea were now a second tier club in England since their relegation at the end of the 1987/88 campaign. 

Debutant Knill

Wales were expected to line up in 4-4-2, the almost solely used formation on The British Isles now in the late 80s. Knill would be given the huge responsibility of looking after van Basten, whereas tough tackling midfielder Barry Horne would be asked to do a marking job on Gullit. Also, it was difficult to spot a wide midfielder in the Welsh line-up pre-game, possibly with the exception of former Manchester United man Davies. Yorath would be hoping that Rush and Hughes up front could cause the Dutch defence enough worry for the visitors to bring a sensational point back to Wales.

Former clashes and referee

Referee Damgaard in centre, the later famous referee Mikkelsen to his right, aged only 28

The Netherlands versus Wales fixture was far from a regular occurance; this was in fact their first ever meeting. In charge of the clash was up and coming 35 year old Danish referee Jan Damgaard, making his fifth international appearance already. He had been the referee during the Netherlands’ final preparation match ahead of the European Championships, a 2-0 home win against Romania in this very ground three and a half months earlier. The match was an evening kick-off, and the atmosphere appeared a volatile yet controlled one by 8.15pm in the Amsterdam Olympic stadium.

Netherlands (3-4-3)

1 Hans van Breukelen31PSV
2 Barry van Aerle25PSV
3 Adri van Tiggelen31Anderlecht
4 Ronald Koeman25PSV
5 Frank Rijkaard25AC Milan
6 Jan Wouters28Ajax
7 Gerald Vanenburgsub 67′24PSV
8 Erwin Koeman26Mechelen
9 Marco van Basten24AC Milan
10 Ruud Gullit (c)26AC Milan
11 Hendrie Krüzen23PSV

12 Sonny Silooy25Racing Paris
13 Wilbert Suvrijn25Roda
14 Wim Kiefton 67′25PSV
15 John Bosman23Mechelen
16 Joop Hiele29Feyenoord
Manager: Thijs Libregts

Wales (4-4-2)

1 Neville Southall29Everton
2 Gareth Hall19Chelsea
3 Clayton Blackmore23Manchester United
4 Geraint Williams26Derby
5 Alan Knill23Swansea
6 Peter Nicholas28Chelsea
7 Alan Davies26Swansea
8 Mark Aizlewood28Leeds
9 Ian Rush (c)26Liverpool
10 Mark Hughessub 78′24Manchester United
11 Barry Horne 16′26Portsmouth

12 Tony Norman30Sunderland
13 Glyn Hodges25Watford
14 Brian Law18QPR
15 Dean Saunderson 78′24Oxford
16 Kenny Jackett26Watford
Manager: Terry Yorath

Tactical line-ups

Pinpointing this Netherlands formation is a tricky task. It does demand thorough investigation, but eventually I’ve come down on 3-4-3. Ronald Koeman was operating as the spare man in defence, but at the same time Rijkaard, who was keeping a watchful eye on Wales captain Rush, would act more or less as a second libero, often seen advancing well beyond the halfway line. Van Tiggelen was sticking to Hughes, but even he would be seen inside enemy territory on more than one occasion. Providing width were van Aerle on the right and the older Koeman brother along the left. With Wales often pinned back deep inside their own half, width seemed essential. The hosts were not always applying this. Ideally, van Aerle would cooperate with Vanenburg to terrorise down the right flank, and Erwin Koeman would plot likewise with Krüzen. The latter did keep himself in wide positions alright, but Vanenburg often had a tendency to come inside and seek more central positions. Wouters was holding the Dutch midfield together in his defensive role (at times he was the home player closest to van Breukelen), whereas Gullit’s attacking midfield role was a very liberal one, almost as a supporting act for lone striker van Basten. Both these two attacking aces were being closely monitored by each their opponent.

The visitors sit compact in their 4-4-2, which almost resembles a diamond shape. However, both Williams and Aizlewood are given more wide assignments: the former to the right, the latter towards the left. Manager Yorath will have wanted them to aid their respective full-back. With Wales in possession, Aizlewood would appear slightly more central, in a defensive capacity, whereas Williams would still stick to the right hand side. At the back of their midfield was Horne, whose task was being Gullit’s marker. Davies was the most advanced Welsh midfielder, trying to lend support for the front two. At the back, Wales had the tall, lanky Knill marking van Basten. Nicholas was the spare man, sitting slightly behind his fellow central defender. Neither full-back was allowed much attacking scope. Up top, Hughes and Rush were also looked after by each their man.

The same group of 22 men take to the pitch after the half-time break, but with some slight tactical adjustments:

They have pushed Gullit higher up in the pitch, as a second striker alongside van Basten. With the Netherlands so dominant, it is not as if they need added numbers in midfield. Ronald Koeman has been pushed into a central midfield position, in a more advanced role than Wouters, whose job now is to protect the two sole central defenders Rijkaard and van Tiggelen. The Dutch siege on the Welsh half of the pitch is almost total.

Midway through the second half, they will bring striker Kieft into play for the largely ineffective Vanenburg, prompting Gullit to take up a position wide right, with Kieft slotting into the centre alongside van Basten.

They see no other option than to let Horne continue to sit tight to Gullit, and so appear to be at 5-3-2 after the break, with Gullit now in a more advanced position. Aizlewood might feel added responsibility towards the centre of the pitch, though he still has the wish to protect his left-back Blackmore when van Aerle and Vanenburg decide to attack down this flank. The Welsh have almost totally surrendered the centre of the park, and their sole hope seems to be for their two strikers to cause a miracle up top, as their most creative midfield player during the first half, Davies, has to try and stop R Koeman advancing into shooting positions.

As the Netherlands push Gullit wide right at the halfway point in the second half, when Kieft comes on for Vanenburg, Horne will continue his marking role, now with an obvious bias towards the left hand side of the pitch, something which sees previous left-back Blackmore move into more or less a central midfield role. Aizlewood appears to be keen on monitoring Kieft’s whereabouts, and so drops deeper, and finds himself in more central positions. When Saunders replaces Hughes later, it is a straight swap forward for forward.

Match Report

First half:
The home side will be playing with the wind behind them in the opening half. There does seem to be some movement in the corner flag at experienced ‘keeper Neville Southall’s end of the pitch, suggesting that the visitors are not only up against the recently crowned champions of Europe, but also against the elements. Still, it is Wales who kick off through their richly talented forward duo of Ian Rush and Mark Hughes.

Netherlands immediately on the front foot
Well aware of the task ahead of them, Wales set off cautiously. They wish to populate the midfield, and denying the home team space seems essential: the Dutch thrive on fluidity. At the back, it seems clear that tall defender Alan Knill, making his debut in the Wales jersey, is looking to stay close to Marco van Basten, a daunting proposition for a defender from the English third division, whereas his more seasoned partner at the heart of the visitors’ defence, Peter Nicholas, could claim more of a spare role. Mark Aizlewood, a player well capable of operating both as a central defender and in central midfield, positions himself slightly towards the left hand side of the pitch, possibly with the aim of aiding his left-back Clayton Blackmore in coping with any threat the home side may wish to exert along their right wing. Opposite, Geraint Williams appears to be doing likewise ahead of teenage full-back Gareth Hall. They may miss a couple of experienced heads at the back, may the Welsh, and so it is important to not concede early on for the players to keep belief. However, with just over a minute on the clock, it almost goes wrong as Ronald Koeman, the Netherlands’ libero, feeds central midfielder Jan Wouters with a short pass well inside the visitors’ half. Wouters proceeds to take the ball past a rather half-hearted challenge from Williams, and 25 yards out he tests Southall’s mettle.

Wouters testing Southall early

Wouters is hardly renowned for his goalscoring ability, although he had struck once in his previous 19 internationals, but his shot’s an excellent effort, and it takes a terrific one-handed save from the ‘keeper to tip the ball over for a right wing corner. With the tone already set, van Basten then outjumps Knill after a Vanenburg cross from the right to head just over. The game’s less than two minutes old, and you’d forgive the Welsh for fearing they could be in for a long evening.

Interesting tussles around the pitch
Wales are with six starting players from outside the English top division, and indeed even with two players featuring in the third tier in England with Swansea. Surely, the gap in quality will be evident throughout the course of the match. However, there is one ability that players from The British Isles are never lacking in, and that is commitment. No matter what happens, the Welsh will make sure that the Netherlands realize they’re in a battle. With just over two minutes on the clock, Hall lets Hendrie Krüzen, the most recent addition to the Dutch starting eleven, know he’s there as he tackles the PSV wide man strongly by the halfway line. Welsh tactics also show how they wish to nullify the threat from the two main Dutch attacking aces, with Knill sticking to van Basten, and with Portsmouth hard man Barry Horne shadowing Ruud Gullit. This does appear to leave the visitors somewhat short as far as possession ability in the centre of the pitch goes, but manager Yorath obviously sees it as more important to try and prevent Gullit from getting into his stride. At the other end of the pitch, Anderlecht defender Adri van Tiggelen, one of the more anonymous heads in this Netherlands team, looks to mark Wales striker Mark Hughes, whereas the other Welsh forward, today’s captain Ian Rush, must lock horns with Frank Rijkaard. There are sound battles all around the pitch, and there’s no way that the home side wish to be psyched by Wales’ physical approach to the game: The Dutch players give as good as they get.

Davies as the source of creativity
Wales are happy to relinquish the initiative into the hands of the hosts. It is up to the Netherlands to move the ball about quickly enough to unlock the visitors’ defence. The hosts will need a lot of patience, as there appears to be a great reluctance among the visitors to be lured out of their own half. There is only one Welsh midfielder with a bit of creative responsibility, and that is Alan Davies.

Alan Davies

Once on the books of Manchester United, he is now a protégé of Wales boss Yorath at Swansea, and he would need to bridge the massive gap in level from the third tier in English football to perform against the best national team in Europe. It was a mammoth task for the moustached Davies. He would cover a lot of space, and he will have been above average as far as quality on the ball for a player based in the third tier in English football went, yet his energy seemed futile against a home side always numerically superior, as the visitors rarely allowed for more than three or four of their players to move into Dutch territory at the same time.

Wales tactics working well
Since their two early efforts, the Dutch had gone somewhat stale. They had been unable to make their superiority in possession count, and perhaps had it been a mistake not to include at least one friendly since the summer’s European Championships. The vociferous home crowd could perhaps have been forgiven for expecting Wales to be a relatively winable proposition, and the aura of anticipation might have got to some of the Dutch players, who were not always firing on all cylinders in the first part of the opening period. New boss Libregts was looking to involve two wide players on each side of the pitch, though neither Berry van Aerle/Gerald Vanenburg along the right nor Erwin Koeman/Krüzen down the left seemed to get into their stride. It was nevertheless a difficult task, with Wales sitting so deep and compact inside their own half. Gullit, who did seem somewhat bothered by the eternal presence of Horne, receded into midfield, but failed to be an outlet of creativity. The Welsh stood firm, and their tactics of frustrating the opponent seemed to work so far. Just after the 15 minute mark, midfielder Horne picked up a yellow card for a heavy challenge on Krüzen just inside the visitors’ half.

Dutch superiority
The first half is a perpetual orange wave inside the Welsh half, yet their pace is too laboured to cause much worry for Southall. There are efforts from distance from van Tiggelen and twice from Rijkaard, probably more in frustration than in actual belief, and with an increasingly more involved Ronald Koeman also letting fly from all of 35 yards (way over goal), Wales manager Yorath must have been pretty pleased along the touchline. His counterpart Libregts, under the watchful eye of his predecessor Rinus Michels in the stands, clearly less so. There might have been a slight element of the Netherlands underestimating their opponents, but in the tough international climate, there was no longer such a thing as an easy fixture. And certainly not against an opponent which built their reputation on grit, determination and steel.

R Koeman prepares to launch

Before the half-time whistle, Southall had been called into action on another Dutch effort from distance, as a familiar strike by Ronald Koeman from almost 30 yards out brought another decent stop from the 29 year old goalkeeper, two days short of his next birthday. The Everton stopper had also been called into action on 37 minutes, when Davies had wanted to play a backpass which had been anticipated by van Basten. There did appear to be contact as Southall got down to deny the ace marksman inside the area, with the ‘keeper probably taking out the man as well as the ball. To their credit, the home side did not make it much of an issue. Also, with the hosts turning the screw on their visitors in the final minutes, Gullit brought out another save from Southall after an excellent initiative and right wing cross from van Tiggelen. The spotless Damgaard brought events to a halt as he sounded the half-time whistle after 33 seconds of added time. 0-0.

Second half
Both teams reappear unchanged as they enter the pitch for the second half. The visitors had defended doggedly in the opening 45 minutes, with ‘keeper Southall delievering some fine stops to deny the Dutch aces. They had offered next to nothing going forward, Wales, but if someone had offered Yorath a share of the spoils pre-match, he would’ve snapped their hands off. Would the Welsh continue to be able to shut the Netherlands out? Libregts would hopefully have said a few words of wisdom in the half-time dressing room, and perhaps would the orange army produce a less static second half display? Kick-off for the last period was seen to by van Basten and Vanenburg.

Wales’ forward duo
The opening five minutes of the final period contain little suggesting that the match will carry much of a different opinion compared to the opening 45 minutes. The Netherlands meticulously, perhaps too much so, stroke the ball between them, and they are unable to produce that telling pass which leaves the well organized Welsh defence gasping for air. Wales are defending with fine determination right through their team, and the two strikers are certainly contributing to the cause. Ian Rush is back with Liverpool after a one year stint with Juventus. Some would claim his time in Italy had been disappointing, but like with so many other British players, he had perhaps fell victim to the different tactical approach used on the continent in comparison to what clubs on The British Isles adopt. Back where he belonged, the lightening fast Rush was again thriving.

Hughes feeding Rush second half

Alongside him, Mark Hughes’ career had seen a somewhat similar turn: Leaving a big club in Britain to test himself on the continent. A less natural goalscorer than his Welsh striking partner, he had probably been accused of not sending enough balls into the back of opposition nets, and ten goals in two seasons with Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively had taken him back to Manchester United, where his scoring record prior to leaving had been around 0,4 per match. Both forwards were doing a huge amount of running as first line of Welsh defence, and they saw to that the home side were unable to build quietly from the back. And after the half-time break, it would seem that the Dutch had made a tactical change, moving libero R Koeman into midfield. Perhaps to avoid the attention from Rush and Hughes?

Tweak in Netherlands tactics
Indeed, the younger Koeman brother’s move into midfield from his libero role had not been the only Dutch half-time change. Eccentric forward Gullit, whose performance had so far belied his status as one of the current footballing scene’s greatest players, much owed to him being tightly marked by the strong, efficient Horne, had also been moved into a more advanced position, as he now with much greater frequency positioned himself next to his Milan mate van Basten up top. In doing so, Gullit saw to that the Welsh midfield were without the steely presence of Horne, who would continue to shadow him. It was a natural thought to have that this would free up space for R Koeman or even Rijkaard to take control of midfield, possibly resulting in the Netherlands exerting even greater dominance on the visitors. However, their display after 50 minutes had hardly suggested a team with a lot of urgency. Was this their Euro hangover in evidence? Vanenburg, who was so often a creative outlet along the Dutch right hand side, had been quiet so far, but he had produced a decent cross for Krüzen to outjump Hall on the far post on 49 minutes. The PSV wide man’s header had gone well over, underlining the home side’s increasing frustration. 

The Netherlands trying to up the tempo
The crowd may have been somewhat disappointed with the goalless scoreline so far, but they kept trying to inspire their heroes, sounding their voices in a fine chorus of traditional Netherlands football fans songs. This brought a forward initiative from Rijkaard, the masterful defender who was never shy to leave his defensive position, but his left-footed attempt from 25 yards out to the right of goal was never in danger of troubling Southall. A better effort came as van Basten drew himself away from the attention of Knill: He had sought himself out towards a wide right position, from where he delievered a deep cross. Again, Krüzen would crush Hall in the air, bringing another parry out of Southall, as the Dutch #11’s header into the ground had to be palmed away. Aizlewood, always a player appearing with a bit of swagger and elegancy about him, for once opted to boot the ball away and into safety from inside his own six yard box. Were the hosts upping the ante? Two minutes later, on 55 minutes, defensive midfielder Wouters would again have a go from distance, this time from a full 30 yards. The team’s sole Ajax alibi’s effort was confidently held by Southall.

First substitution
The hour mark went by and the Netherlands were yet to breach the deadlock. The visitors were sitting tight and denying the home side space, making sure that shots from distance remained their opponents’ better option. Rijkaard, again joining in play deep inside the visitors’ half, had been set up by Wouters to have another pop from 30 yards out, but his shooting was below par; this effort rolled harmlessly to the left of Southall’s goal. With perhaps a hint of frustration starting to spread among a few of the home side’s players, super sub Wim Kieft was seen warming up along the touchline. It had been his late header against another team from The British Isles, the Republic of Ireland, which had made sure of the Netherlands’ passage through from the summer’s group stage in that slim and hard earned 1-0 win.

Libregts has told Kieft to get ready

Like Michels before him, could Libregts look to the strong PSV front man for a way past the opponents’ goalie? The change would eventually take place just after 66 minutes, with Vanenburg giving way. A centre forward on for a winger. This would bring about further changes in the home side’s tactical shape, seeing Gullit move out into right handed territory, freeing up space up front for the substitute to slot in alongside van Basten. With Gullit moving into the right wing position, he would draw Horne with him, and this would quickly even lead to a Welsh change in tactics, as left-back Blackmore became more or less redundant in this position. With Horne abandoning his central position, the versatile Manchester United man would come into a central midfield position.

Welsh chance
Wales had been unable to string many passes together inside Dutch territory, but on 69 minutes they produce their best opportunity yet, with Davies carrying the ball inside the hosts’ half. His pass inside finds Hughes, who has already spotted his captain Rush making a run into the penalty area to the left. Hughes picks Rush out with a low pass, and the Liverpool striker turns and fires a left-footed shot at goal which takes a deflection off R Koeman and goes over for a right wing corner. Davies will ultimately deliever this straight into the arms of the unworked van Breukelen, but it had been a moment of promise for the visitors, as they had been able to offer their overworked defence some respite. A change in tone or just a brief moment of forward intent from Wales? Familiarly, Kieft would set up R Koeman for a shooting opportunity down the other end two minutes later, but his scewed effort rolls unceremoniously to the left of Southall’s upright. The Dutch players would need to find their shooting boots in order to trouble the sturdy goalkeeper. Or hit more crosses into the area, where the home side had appeared superior. Even their most recent addition Kieft was well-known for his ability in the air. In taking off Vanenburg, however, the Netherlands were without their arguably finest crosser of a ball, so who would deliever the ball from wide areas now?

Small altercation
The hosts see Rijkard and R Koeman interchange positions, with Libregts seeking more creativity from central midfield through the stylish AC Milan man, recently acquired from Spanish football. Wales, on the other hand, decide to replace the hard-working Hughes with Oxford striker Dean Saunders with less than a quarter of an hour left for play. The substitution is a like for like swap, and it provides some fresh legs to chase the Dutch defensive men up front for the visitors. A breakthrough still appears unlikely; the introduction of Kieft’s yet not had the desired effect. The increased frustration among the home players results in some handbags between Krüzen and Nicholas, but the Netherlands man retracts before the referee, who’s had a faultless match so far, even needs to have a word. A continued lack of urgency on display from the home side, perhaps? Would they have benefitted from a bit of added temperature to proceedings? The clock is ticking in favour of the away side, whose belief in winning a valuable point to take back home is continuously growing.

Rijkaard tries again to make ground halfway inside the Welsh half, but his run on the ball is halted by Rush, whose impediment rewards the home side with a free-kick. R Koeman goes to take it, and he spots Gullit to the right inside the penalty area, where the home team’s captain has positioned himself away from his marker Horne. This will have been a fatal error in judgement from the Welshman, who stands no chance when Gullit attacks the free-kick in the air.

R Koeman will aim the decisive free-kick for Gullit’s goal. Notice how Gullit’s distanced himself from his marker (Horne) at the far end of the area

Perhaps had Horne been left for dead anyway, but being closer to Gullit would at least have given him a chance. As it is, the skipper connects with the ball still high in the air, and his powerful header smashes off Southall’s crossbar with the ‘keeper well committed. No visiting defender is able to react before Gullit follows through from his own rebound and proceeds to head the ball again, this time high into the empty net. To great relief from players, the bench and supporters alike, the Netherlands have their long awaited breakthrough. Some Welsh players are in disbelief: They had weathered the storm for so long, but been unable to hold on for a clean sheet. An expected outcome was about to happen, and the Amsterdam Olympic stadium was rocking with support from the delirious Dutch fans. It had been so important not to be left trailing on points behind the West Germans, and all they had to do now was shut the visitors out and claim dual points. From what the visitors had showed so far, it was surely a managable task.

No late luck for the visitors
Wales have efforts from distance from both their original full-backs, but neither Hall nor Blackmore are able to make van Breukelen work. At the other end, van Basten has a trademark effort, a low diagonal shot from inside the penalty area to the right, just wide of the left hand post. The visitors seem to have no plan B to implement for trying to rescue a late share of the spoils. They are able to keep possession inside the Netherlands’ half, as the home side ultimately sit back to protect their slender lead, but there is never any great danger in front of the home goal, as Oranje are able to see the match out and pick up the two essential points to kick-start their World Cup qualifying campaign. The referee had brought the game to an end 53 seconds into time added on, and Barry Horne went to shake Ruud Gullit’s hand as the two players who had locked horns all match would swap jerseys. Gullit may have had a difficult afternoon, but in the end his class had shown.

Wales had come to defend, and their tactics were to not leave much space for the Dutch attack’s two main stars van Basten and Gullit, as Knill and Horne were given man-marking orders on the two Italy based aces. There had been a few efforts from distance, one already just after a minute, but Southall had been equal to anything the hosts had thrown at him. 

Neville ‘Big Nev’ Southall

The home side would make a few small changes to their approach in the second half, abandoning their 3-4-3 in favour of a formation more akin to 4-2-4, and with libero R Koeman moving into midfield. Not even overloading tactics seemed to intimidate the resilient Welsh, who only capitulated late on due to Gullit’s extreme ability in the air. There was naturally great relief among the home players after their late show, as claiming the win had been so essential in their efforts to keep up with West Germany at the top of the table. Wales had produced next to nothing in front of van Breukelen, but will ultimately have been disappointed to concede with so little time remaining.


1 van Breukelen 6.6
more or less reduced to a spectator. Makes one punch when he has to and has a near post catch on a corner kick. Difficult to judge
2 van Aerle 6.9
an outlet along the right hand side, and clearly more efficient than Vanenburg along this flank. Never challenged defensively, but at times not precise enough in his passing
3 van Tiggelen 7.0
fine job on Hughes, composed on the ball, and has few problems with Saunders after the Welsh substitution
4 R Koeman 7.2
never lost composure, realized when to move forward, though his shooting was more wayward than usual: only made Southall work once from three attempts. His chipped free-kick found Gullit’s head for the eventual goal
5 Rijkaard 7.2
always such a stylish performer, and given license to move forward. However, little luck in his shooting from distance. In control when challenging Rush, and an asset in the air at both ends. Pulled back for the free-kick which ultimately lead to the goal
6 Wouters 7.2
fine job in keeping the home side tick in the middle of the park. Quiet, efficient performance. Close to scoring after a minute, and tested Southall later as well
7 Vanenburg 6.3
does not enjoy a lot of joy down the right hand side, and sees his path to crossing effectively blocked. Good decision to replace him
(14 Kieft –
little impact after coming on apart from adding to sheer numbers up front)
8 E Koeman 6.5
wishes to get into crossing positions, but often blocked in his path, and must find support in field or behind him. Set pieces not of the highest quality
9 van Basten 6.9
his movement into the channels was the highlight of his performance, as the Welsh defence blocked his path to goal. Some fine touches for team mates. Struggled in the air
10 Gullit 6.6
got the only goal from his extreme aerial ability, and could’ve had one prior to that, but in open play he got no luck against his marker. Little improvement even after he had been pushed into a wide right position after the Dutch substitution
11 Krüzen 6.5
difficult afternoon against the tenacious Hall, and has few other intentions than sticking to the left hand touchline. Early second half header over as he outjumped the full-back. On the receiving end of four tough first half challenges

1 Southall 8.0
excellent throughout with his shot stopping and saves from close range. Probably should’ve been awarded a penalty against when van Basten was brought down after Davies’ stray backpass. Even got his hand to Gullit’s original header for the goal, and punched well when he needed to
2 Hall 7.2
terrific job against Krüzen in denying his opponent space and time. Sole focus on defensive duties. Strong in the challenge. Lost a crucial far post aerial challenge early second half
3 Blackmore 6.8
the versatile defender co-existed well with Aizlewood, and did a good job on nullifying the threat from the Dutch right. Moved into midfield for the final 20 minutes or so without making much of an impression. A wasted shot late on
4 Williams 6.6
anonymous performance along the right hand side, but sacrifices himself for the team in assisting Hall to keep Dutch wing play relatively quiet
5 Knill 6.9
gets his head to the ball a couple of time in a cluster of players, and does manage to keep van Basten away from direct danger, though appears somewhat unsure when pulled out of position
6 Nicholas 7.2
composed performance at the heart of the Welsh defence with his authority and ability to pick depth. Precise balls forward from his trusted right foot
7 Davies 6.9
busy performance, the more creative and advanced of the midfield four, but had a difficult job in linking up with the front two. Poor backpass which should have lead to a penalty. Never stops running
8 Aizlewood 6.9
never rushed, though offered little support from midfield when Wales had the opportunity to break. Calm on the ball, and assisted Blackmore well defensively
9 Rush 6.6
has a second half effort via R Koeman and over, as well as getting into an offside position before side-footing in the first half. Less effective than Hughes in chasing the opposition’s defenders
10 Hughes 6.7
literally with his back to the wall throughout, but put a big shift in as first line of defence. Did show glimpses of his extreme ability to keep control in tight situations. Played Rush in for an attempt at goal in the second half. Tired as he came off
(15 Saunders –
apart from chasing opponents, he is of little use after coming on)
11 Horne 7.0
stuck tightly to Gullit all afternoon, but was left with little chance as he let the goalscorer with too much space when it mattered. Fine performance let down through lapse in concentration


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