Van Nistelrooy returns to steal Dutch hearts

SERRAVALE - Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored a hat-trick but it was the returning Ruud van Nistelrooy who ultimately stole Dutch hearts with a late goal as San Marino were brushed aside 5-0 in this Euro 2012 opener.

Neutrals, though, were simply delighted to see the Netherlands back at their fast-raiding, free-flowing best after disappointing a huge World Cup final audience with their spoiling tactics against winners Spain back in July.

The result was never in doubt after Dirk Kuyt opened the floodgates in the 16th minute with a penalty.

Huntelaar made it 2-0 before the break and in an open and fast-moving match, the big striker scored twice more after the break.

Van Nistelrooy, who was recalled to the squad for the first time in two years after coming out of international retirement, made his presence once again felt when he replaced Nigel de Jong in the 67th minute.

The 34-year-old, replacing the injured Robin van Persie, was given a standing ovation as he stepped on to the pitch and capped his return with an injury time strike.

"It has been a long road here... and in that time you realise it is not just a normal thing to stand under the national anthem and to put this shirt on," Van Nistelrooy said.

"And if it comes back again when you really thought it was not possible, then this is an exceptional moment."

Van Nistelrooy said on Dutch TV he was aiming to stay in the international team as long as possible, saying if trainer Bert van Marwijk still wanted him he would "very gladly come."

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