England held the Holland of Gullit and Van Basten to a 0-0 draw.
Bobby Robson’s England went all the way to the semi-finals at Italia 90, still our best performance on foreign soil, but their first two Group F fixtures had finished in frustrating draws.
The second of those, against Holland, was played on this day in the Stadio Sant’Elia in Cagliari.
Five days after a 1-1 draw against Republic of Ireland at the same venue, England took on a top-class Dutch side that included Gullit, Van Basten, Rijkaard and Koeman. They were the reigning European Champions.
England put on a much improved performance this time, with Des Walker and Terry Butcher looking unbeatable in defence.
Twice in a minute in the first half they came close to taking the lead. Gary Lineker’s cut-back just eluded John Barnes and Paul Gascoigne wriggled past two defenders to cross for Bryan Robson to head narrowly wide.
Lineker had a goal disallowed, the Yugoslav referee ruling that he had handled the ball, before a dramatic end to the match.
In the last seconds ‘Gazza’ was fouled on the right side of the box. Stuart Pearce’s free-kick flew across van Breukelen and into the far corner, provoking delirium amongst England players and fans until the ref reminded everyone that the kick had been indirect.
A 1-0 win against Egypt in their last Group match took England through to the Second Round.