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Holland 2 Armenia 0

Holland picked up the gauntlet thrown down earlier by the Czech Republic by beating Armenia to return to top spot in World Cup European Zone Group One on Wednesday evening.

Romeo Castelen gave the Dutch an early advantage and when Ruud van Nistelrooy added another later in the first half the match was virtually over.

Earlier in the day, a 4-0 win for the Czech Republic in Andorra had seen Marco van Basten’s side lose top spot to a side that has generally had the better of them in recent encounters.

However, the Oranje also showed no mercy to one of European football’s less established sides to put the Dutch in pole position once more.

With Romania just two points behind the Dutch there is still plenty to play for in what is proving a competitive group.

Castelen’s early strike was a self-inflicted wound for the Armenians whose defence were left floundering by a Mark van Bommel corner, thus allowing Castelen to score.

Van Bommel, being watched by some of Europe’s leading clubs after some excellent performances in the Champions League for PSV Eindhoven, delighted his home fans by also being involved in the second.

His pass found Van Nistelrooy and the Manchester United hitman gave goalkeeper Roman Berezovski no chance.

Armenian forays into Dutch territory were something of a rarity although goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was called into action to deny Armen Shahgeldyan.

The experienced Berezovksi was by far the busier of the two custodians and did well to deny Van Nistelrooy his second goal in the second half.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst was unfortunate not to grab a third goal for the Oranje when he rattled the woodwork with a long-range effort.

After adverse results against the Czechs in qualification for Euro 2004, and then throwing away a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 in Aveiro in a classic encounter to their bogey team, the Dutch can at least know they have Bruckner and his men where they want them at this stage of qualification.

With Romania having played one game more and the other teams in the group nowhere the opportunity is there for Van Basten to do what his predecessor Dick Advocaat failed to achieve.

Teams

Holland Van der Sar, Kromkamp, Mathijsen, Van Bronckhorst, Bouma, Landzaat (Van der Vaart 50), Castelen (Babel 50), Van Bommel, van Nistelrooy, Cocu, Kuijt (Vennegoor of Hesselink 81).

Subs Not Used: Timmer, Melchiot, Maduro.

Booked: Van der Vaart.

Goals: Castelen 3, van Nistelrooy 34.

Armenia Berezovsky, Melikian, Dokhoyan, Hovsepyan (Arman Karamian 84), Arzumanian (Tadevosian 85), Grigorian (Artavazd Karamian 60), Khachatrian, Shahgeldyan, Voskanian, Hakobian, Mkhitarian.

Subs Not Used: Nazarian, Apula Edima Bete, Jenebian, Karen Aleksanian.

Booked: Grigorian, Hovsepyan, Melikian.

Att: 33,000

Ref: Matteo Trefoloni (Italy).

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