30 years on: When Netherlands boss Koeman 'cheated' England


David Platt bursts through on goal – this is the moment to send England to the 1994 World Cup.

England only need a draw in Rotterdam against Netherlands but with almost an hour played and the game goalless, Platt can all but seal their spot.

Andy Sinton’s long ball over the top of the Dutch defence is met by the striker who only has goalkeeper Ed de Goey to beat. And then it happens. One of the most controversial moments in England’s history.

Netherlands captain Ronald Koeman reaches out with his right arm and hauls Platt to the turf. Referee Karl-Josef Assenmacher instantly charges over pointing to the penalty spot – and surely his next act will be to send Koeman off, who is adamant it should be a free-kick instead.

But Assenmacher reverses his decision, agreeing with Koeman, before most shockingly, showing the defender a yellow card.

England boss Graham Taylor (left) confronts the fourth official and assistant referee.
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England boss Graham Taylor (left) confronts the fourth official and assistant referee

“What are they being instructed?” rages England boss Graham Taylor in footage later seen on Channel 4’s documentary An Impossible Job. “What sort of thing is happening here? Absolutely disgraceful.”

It gets worse for Taylor and England. Five minutes later, Legendary ITV commentator Brian Moore’s prophecy of “he’s going to flick one, he’s going to flick one” comes true as Koeman sends a free-kick into the top left corner to give Netherlands the lead.

“You know we’ve been cheated, don’t you?” Taylor says to the assistant referee. “The referee’s got me the sack. Thank him ever so much for that, won’t you?”

England fall to a 2-0 defeat and despite a 7-1 win over San Marino a month later in November 1993, the Three Lions fail to qualify. Taylor resigns six days later.

Ronald Koeman scores a free-kick for the Netherlands against England in 1994 World Cup qualifying.
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Ronald Koeman scores a free-kick for the Netherlands against England in 1994 World Cup qualifying

Koeman, the former Southampton, Everton and Barcelona manager, now in charge of Netherlands for a second time, has since admitted he should have walked.

“It was a clear foul,” he said in 2018. “Nowadays it would have been a red card for sure but I was very happy that the referee said it was a free-kick and not a penalty.”

England’s sweet revenge at Euro 96

Alan Shearer scores a penalty for England in their 4-1 victory over Netherlands at Euro 96.
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Alan Shearer scores a penalty for England in their 4-1 victory over Netherlands at Euro 96

England have won six and lost seven against Netherlands but their greatest day over the Dutch came at Euro 1996.

Paul Gascoigne’s iconic goal against Scotland had started the party but England’s scintillating performance in the final group game had the country believing.

England XI vs Netherlands – Euro 1996

England XI: Seaman; G. Neville, Adams, Southgate, Pearce; McManaman, Ince, Gascoigne, Anderton; Shearer, Sheringham.

Doubles from Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham had Terry Venables’ England four up inside 62 minutes before Patrick Kluivert pulled one back late on – a goal that sent Scotland home.

“We took on Holland at total football and beat them,” said Shearer. “A performance I don’t think England have bettered in my living memory, notwithstanding the five goals Sven-Goran Eriksson’s team stuck past Germany in 2001.”

Koeman vs Southgate – one victory each

Gareth Southgate (left) and Ronald Koeman.
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Gareth Southgate (left) and Ronald Koeman

Netherlands have not reached a Euros semi-final since 2004 and Koeman is bidding for a unique double as player and now manager having featured in their Euro 88 success.

He began his first spell in charge by suffering a 1-0 defeat to England in March 2018 which was seen as somewhat of a statement victory for Gareth Southgate ahead of the World Cup.

England XI vs Netherlands – March 2018

(3-5-2): Pickford; Walker, Stones, Gomez (Maguire, 10 (Dier, 89)); Trippier, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Lingard (Alli, 68), Rose (Young, 71); Sterling (Welbeck, 68), Rashford (Vardy, 68).

Jesse Lingard scored his first international goal as England earned victory over Netherlands for the first time since Euro 1996 and their first in the Dutch capital since 1969.

Southgate continued his back three experiment and moved Kyle Walker onto the right side of the defence alongside John Stones and Joe Gomez as England extended their unbeaten run to seven matches despite being without Harry Kane.

Koeman named Virgil van Dijk as his new captain while Stefan de Vrij, Memphis Depay and Wout Weghorst all featured and will do so again on Wednesday night.

Netherlands roared back a year later, reaching the Nations League final in June 2019 with a 3-1 victory after extra-time over England, the last meeting between the two countries.

England XI vs Netherlands – June 2019

(4-3-3): Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Chilwell; Rice (Alli, 106), Delph (Henderson, 77), Barkley; Sancho (Lingard, 61), Rashford (Kane, 45), Sterling.

Marcus Rashford scored from the penalty spot but in a sign of things to come under Southgate, England sat back and didn’t build on their lead, allowing Matthijs de Ligt to equalise.

Marcus Rashford (left) celebrates scoring for England in the Nations League against Netherlands.
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Marcus Rashford (left) celebrates scoring for England in the Nations League against Netherlands

Jesse Lingard had a late winner ruled out for offside by VAR before errors from John Stones and Ross Barkley in extra time when trying to play out from the back led to an own-goal by Kyle Walker and a Quincy Promes third.



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