Classic 3️⃣ points: England thrash Holland and the nation believes

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Dan Burke

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We continue our Euro 96 nostalgia-fest with a look back at England’s 4-1 demolition of the Netherlands back on 18 June 1996.

The result meant Terry Venables’s side finished top of Group A, while the Dutch finished second, ahead of Scotland.

Here are three points of interest from the game …

Gazza for the Ballon d’Or

Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham made Wembley roar with two goals apiece in this one, but it was Paul Gascoigne who had the grand old stadium swaying with another sublime display.

Unlike against Scotland, there was no goal for the Rangers man on this occasion, but he was involved in everything England did going forward and try as they might, the Dutch defence barely laid a glove on him.

The moment of the match by far was England’s third goal. Gascoigne played a clever one-two with Steve McManaman before breezing past Michael Reiziger into the box.

From there he pulled it back for Sheringham, who adjusted his body perfectly to feed Shearer, and the cold-blooded Newcastle hit-man slammed his fourth goal of the tournament past Edwin Van der Sar.

The Three Lions strike-force were singing from the same hymn sheet, and Gazza was the choir master.

It might be ridiculous to suggest he’s the best player in the world at the moment.

But then again, it might not.

It could have been a different day

The scoreline suggests this was a completely one-sided affair but the stats tell a different story.

Ironically, it was a Cruyff turn from Paul Ince which tricked the creaking Danny Blind into conceding a penalty mid-way through the first half.

Sheringham duly converted from the spot to make it 1-0 but from there until half-time, it was the Dutch who dominated.

Aron Winter missed two golden opportunities to score, Dennis Bergkamp uncharacteristically missed three (including a one-on-one with David Seaman) and commentator Barry Davies was not wrong when he said “England really need half-time here”.

Guus Hiddink’s side had more possession, more corners and more shots, but three England goals inside five second-half minutes ultimately blew them away.

The Dutch will meet France in the quarter-finals, and they will simply have to be more clinical in front of goal.

Maybe, after scoring tonight, young Patrick Kluivert is due his first start of the tournament.

Is football actually coming home?

David Baddiel and Frank Skinner were surely being at least semi-ironic when they wrote the feel-good hit of the summer which England has adopted as its new anthem.

But after this match, this nation has puffed out its chest and is full of belief that Baddiel and Skinner’s tongue-in-cheek prophecy might actually be coming true.

The Three Lions weren’t great against Switzerland, were only slightly better against Scotland and looked vulnerable at times tonight.

But winning is really all that matters in international tournaments, and there is a sense that the hosts are entering the knockout phase with the wind in their sails.

Up next is Spain in the quarter-finals and if they can navigate that tricky obstacle, football will start making its way home.

As long as England can avoid the Germans and a dreaded penalty shoot-out, 30 years of hurt could soon be coming to an end.