What caused the infamous “Battle of Nuremberg” during the 2006 FIFA World Cup match between Portugal and the Netherlands?

The infamous “Battle of Nuremberg” took place during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, when Portugal and the Netherlands clashed in a heated round of 16 match at Nuremberg’s Frankenstadion. This intense game became notorious for its record-breaking display of cards, with the Russian referee Valentin Ivanov brandishing four red cards and a staggering 16 yellow cards, setting a new milestone for any FIFA-administered international tournament.

Right from the kickoff, the match showcased a fierce physicality, with both teams unleashing their aggression and committing numerous fouls. The tension quickly escalated, leading to Portugal’s Costinha receiving a red card in the 23rd minute for a second bookable offence. The Netherlands’ midfielder Mark van Bommel also saw red in the 33rd minute following a reckless challenge on Portugal’s Deco.

Despite the early dismissals, the game continued at a relentless pace, with both sides engaging in an unabated battle and further fouls being committed. The match reached another tipping point when Dutch defender Khalid Boulahrouz was sent off in the 70th minute for a second bookable offence.

In the end, Portugal emerged triumphant with a slender 1-0 victory, courtesy of Maniche’s goal in the 23rd minute. However, the match’s enduring legacy lies not in the scoreline, but in the unprecedented flurry of cards that dominated the headlines.

The Battle of Nuremberg remains an enduring and controversial chapter in football’s history, fueling discussions and reminiscences to this day. It serves as a stark reminder of the gritty, physical nature of the sport and underlines the crucial role of referees in maintaining control when the intensity threatens to spill over.

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