HOLLAND manager Bert van Marwijk accepted the blame for his side’s shock early elimination from the European Championship after their third defeat from three became the devastating denouement of a woeful campaign.
The recalled Rafael van der Vaart scored for Holland before Cristiano Ronaldo inspired a Portuguese victory that finally justified his reputation as the country’s sole hope. The forward scored twice and shamed the Dutch’s ultimately superior talent with a hunger that suggested a season of success with Real Madrid has failed to dim his personal ambitions.
Portugal now advance to a favourable quarter-final against Czech Republic while Holland, World Cup finalists just two years ago, return home to be scrutinised for their pitiful performance.
“We had to win with a two-goal difference so we had to take a risk, it started well but then it didn’t go to plan,” said Van Marwijk, already unpopular with many for his less-than-purist approach. “We are disappointed we did not play well. I am disappointed, I am responsible.
“Today we opened the scoring but then you have to keep that advantage to force your opponent to take more risks. Again we proved not able to do that and then we gave the goals away too easy. I am responsible and therefore failed at this tournament but at this moment I am not thinking about my future.”
It was in the 11th minute when Van der Vaart controlled Arjen Robben’s pass before curling a superb left-footed effort beyond the despairing dive of Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio, but play thereafter became as shapeless as the tournament has known.
Joao Pereira’s masterful through-ball left Ronaldo with a simple placed finish in the 28th-minute before the latter showed similar composure to calmly finish a swift break 15 minutes from the end.