Iconic World Cup moments- Dennis Bergkamp's goal against Argentina - 1998
World Cup champions never start their campaign on a high note
Netherlands kicked off their 1998 World Cup campaign against Belgium on a low by their standards, as the game ended 0-0. Netherlands rested their star man Dennis Bergkamp and only brought him on in the second half of the game. He took time to settle and by the time he did settle down, Belgium had recorded a historic result to their name. Belgium before the World Cup in France were drawn in the same World Cup qualifiers group with Netherlands. They lost both the qualifying encounters against Holland and Bergkamp found the net on both the occasions.
Hiddink quickly turned to the former Arsenal man by bringing him back into the starting line-up for the next game against South Korea. Netherlands went on to win the tie 5-0.
It was clearly understood by now, that the non-flying Dutchman was very important for the Netherlands national football team in the 1998 World Cup.
A 2-2 draw against Mexico in the final group round match saw Dennis Bergkamp getting substituted by the then Leeds United striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. Dennis Bergkamp was still yet to hit the form which he had showcased in the 1997/98 English Premier League and Cup winning double season with Arsenal, during which he scored a total of 22 goals in 40 games.
The quarter final match between Guss Hiddink’s Oranje and Daniel Passarella’s La Albiceleste in the 1998 FIFA World Cup was about to witness one of the most incredible goals at the World Cup stage.
Both Argentina and Netherlands topped their group and advanced to the round-of-16 to face Yugoslavia and England respectively. Bergkamp scored the first goal against Yugoslavia (the team is now known as Serbia) but it was not until Edgar Davids’ late winner in injury time that the Netherlands ensured their progression into the quarter finals to face Argentina.
The Dutch broke the deadlock to open the scoring in the 12th minute of the quarter-final match against Argentina, when a cleverly headed assist by Bergkamp met the right foot of Patrick Kluivert. Five minutes later, a Juan Sebastian Veron pass dissected the heart of Hiddink’s defensive line-up to see Claudio López equalising for the Argentine team to make it 1-1.
Both the teams had one player sent off; captain Diego Simeone won yet another red card for his team, like against David Beckham of England in the round-of-16′s, as Arthur Numan from Netherlands was sent off in the 76th minute while Ariel Ortega got his marching orders for a foul on Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar in the 87th Min.
A couple of brilliant assists and great finishing caused the game to hang in balance. Dennis Bergkamp had a good left footed half volley saved by the Argentine keeper Carlos Roa, whilst so many ambitious passes by Veron for Argentina were blocked by the Dutch defenders.
The captain of the Netherlands national football team, Frank de Boer in the dying minutes of the game, delivered what many say is called The greatest assist of all time.
In the 89th minute, Frank de Boer drove a sixty yard aerial inch perfect pass to Bergkamp after spotting his run towards the opponents’ final third. Bergkamp then easily deceived Argentine center back Roberto Ayala with three touches of his right foot to score the winner. Dennis Bergkamp’s last minute winner against Argentina is a wonder goal to say the least.
Perfect first touch to control the ball, polished second touch to turn the defender and a precise third touch to finish with a stunning right footed volley into the goal.
This was Bergkamp’s 36th goal in a Netherlands shirt, breaking Faas Wilkes record of most goals for his national team (The current record is held by Robin van Persie – 42 goals).
Bergkamp when asked, Did you ask for this majestic pass from Frank de Boer?
“Yeah, yeah. There’s contact. You’re watching him. He’s looking at you. You know his body language. He’s going to give the ball. So then: full sprint away. I’ve got my five, six yards away from the defender. The ball is coming over my shoulder. I know where it’s going.
So you have to jump up to meet the ball and at the same time control the ball. Control it dead. And again, like the Leicester one, you have to take it inside because the defender is storming that way. He’s running with you and as soon as the ball changes direction, and you change direction as well, then he’s gone, which gives you an open chance. Well, it’s a little bit on the side but it gives you a chance to shoot.”
This goal against Argentina put Netherlands through to the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup where they eventually lost to Brazil on penalties.