With a 3-0 loss to the Netherlands, Latvia has failed to advance to the quarterfinals of the Euro 2004 football (soccer) championship. But at least few commentators are discounting Latvia’s first-time appearance in the competition.
Latvia lost the pivotal June 23 game in Braga, Portugal, as fans outfitted in the national colors and Jāņi crowns cheered on their team. If Latvia had won, it would have advanced to the quarterfinals. But as it turned out, instead the Netherlands gets to move on past the Germans, who lost their critical June 23 game against the group leader, the Czech Republic, 1-2.
The Dutch kept the Latvians busy, controlling the ball for 69 percent of the game and getting off 28 shots on the goal, compared to just six by the Latvians, according to game statistics posted on the official Euro 2004 Web site.
Their first goal against the Latvians came 27 minutes into the first half, when forward Ruud Van Nistelrooij’s penalty shot faked out Latvian goalkeeper Aleksandrs Koļinko. Van Nistelrooij scored again 35 minutes into the game.
Forward Roy Maakay got the third goal for the Netherlands six minutes from the end of the second half.
The Latvian team, which had been described as an underdog, goes home with a last-place finish in group play. But it does so with many commentators noting the team’s surprising spunk, especially in its scoreless tie with Germany.
In all, the Czech Republic earned nine points in Group D play with three victories. Each victory counts for three points, while each draw earns one point. The Netherlands, with one win, one draw and one loss, earned four points. Germany, with two draws and one loss, had two points. Latvia had just one point, earned in the draw with Germany.
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