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Football: Scots enter Holl of shame and let Dick out of jail..; EURO 2004 PLAY-OFF: HOLLAND 6 SCOTLAND 0 Holland win 6-1 on aggregate.

Byline: Robert Martin

THEIR morale might be shot and their players may hate Dick Advocaat and each other, but there was only one team having an Amsterdam good time in Holland last night - and it certainly wasn't Scotland.

Advocaat should have been on one of the thousands of bikes that litter his country this morning, instead of on a plane to Portugal. His team should have been saying goodbye to their international careers.

Instead they are heroes again, feted by the public who had slaughtered them only days earlier when they had meekly lost to us at Hampden.

To be honest, glorious failure might have been enough for us. A brave 2-0 defeat would have left us proud. But 6-0 was Scotland back to the very darkest days of Berti Vogts' reign.

In fact, it was only one less than our worst ever result in international football, when we crashed 7-0 to Uruguay at the 1954 World Cup. So there is no room for sympathy this morning.

The Dutch were good, make no mistake about that. But Scotland made it too easy for them and that is what will rankle Vogts and his players - or should.

This wasn't just a battle to see who would make it through to Portugal next year, it was also a contest to see who could avoid being the biggest failures in world football.

Because if Scotland can take pride in the way that they have contrived to get knocked out of tournaments down the years, the Dutch have made it an art form.

The KNVB museum in the centre of town proudly explained yesterday how Holland should have won the World Cup with Johan Cruyff in 1974, but Vogts got in his way and Germany instead went onto win the final. And we thought it might be an omen.

It also showed how they had been knocked out of the last three tournaments on penalties by Denmark, France and most famously Italy, when they also missed two in open play. And we thought that might be another good omen as well.

Then there was the roof. The Tartan Army had done their best to lift it off at Hampden, but the Dutch responded by leaving theirs open for the Scots' visit.

That meant a chilly November night for the thousands who had turned up in kilts to the space age arena, before the Scots' hopes drifted right up and into the night sky.

The Dutch had issued leaflets begging their support to out-sing the Scots, and the atmosphere had been building around the stadium - a 20 minute drive from the city centre - a good three hours before kick-off.

But the more pressing concern for Scots fans was just getting out to the ground itself with rumours sweeping around that the metro had been closed.

The ground soon filled up, though, and a rousing rendition of the Dutch version of Glory, Glory to the Oranje had all of the support, each with their own orange flag, on their feet.

Advocaat chatted animatedly on his bench with his staff, while Vogts looked serene and without a care in the world.

However, it was anything but relaxed on the pitch with both sets of players clashing after Barry Ferguson and Rafael van der Vaart exchanged words and elbows.

It showed the Dutch were up for it, and with the sea of orange behind them it seemed inevitable they would get back into the tie at some stage.

The way they did was disappointing, though, Neil McCann allowing Wesley Sneijder to glide past him before driving low past Rab Douglas to bring them level on aggregate.

Scotland simply looked to keep themselves afloat. Instead they drowned. Douglas allowed Ooijer to head past him and Ruud van Nistelrooy nodded home to put them three up before half-time. Then the Man Utd man deftly flicked the ball over the Celtic keeper to make it four.

Frank de Boer added insult to injury by heading home from a corner to kill off the hopes of the Tartan Army.

Van the man completed his hat-trick, and let's make no bones about this, it could have been much, much worse. The good thing is that Vogts does not need to go back to the drawing board, because he has the nucleus of a squad which is young and have shown they will get better.

But the bad news is that he will have all of next summer to work with them, while the Dutch are having a party in Portugal.


HANDS UP IF YOU'RE WINNING: Advocaat and the Dutch bench; OO NO: Andre Ooijer wheels away as the Scots go two down; NO CANN DO: Skipper Barry Ferguson and Neil McCann can't believe it as Holland score their second in the Amsterdam ArenA
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 20, 2003
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