Uruguay 2-3 Netherlands

July 7th, 2010

Giovanni van Bronckhorst inspired his side to a thrilling victory which leaves the Netherlands just 90 minutes away from the SA2010 title

Dutch captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst is ecstatic after breaking the deadlock in the 18th minute from 35-yards - a spectacular goal! (Photo: CBS Sports)

The former Arsenal man scored a stunning goal as the Netherlands edged past Uruguay in a five-goal thriller to book Bert van Marwijk’s team a place in Sunday’s final.

Wesley Sneijder, who destroyed favourites Brazil with two second-half goals in the quarter-finals, also scored before Arjen Robben sparked an orange party in Cape Town.

Netherlands captain van Bronckhorst, 35, will now get a chance to do what Johan Cruyff failed to do – lift the World Cup.

Despite reaching the final in 1974 and 1978, the Netherlands have never won the tournament.

It means the final will be an all-European affair as they will play the winners of Wednesday’s second semi-final between and Spain and Germany on Sunday.

Uruguay had been cast in the role of semi-final gatecrashers after Luis Suarez’s deliberate handball denied Ghana a last-gasp victory in last Friday’s controverisal quarter-final.

So when van Bronckhorst broke the deadlock in the 18th minute from 35-yards, the roar could be hear all the way from Amsterdam to Accra, capital of Ghana.

Van Bronckhorst has represented the Netherlands more than 100 times. But his sixth goal for his country is something he will surely cherish forever after conjuring up a 35-yard left-foot screamer that not even Suarez could have kept out.

With an average age of 28 years and 342 days, van Marwijk opted to field the oldest Netherlands line-up in a World Cup match since 1978.

But instead of building momentum after taking the lead, they surpisingly lost their way.

Uruguay were missing the attacking threat of Ajax forward Suarez, serving a one-match ban following his ‘Hand of God’ against Ghana.

But like a bolt out of the blue, Oscar Tabarez’s side found themselves back on level terms thanks to another wonder goal by Diego Forlan.

The Uruguay captain created space for himself five minutes before half time before arrowing the ball into the net from 30-yards for his fourth of the tournament.

It was just as stunning as van Brockhorst’s effort, yet Netherlands ‘keeper Maarten Stekelenburg will feel he should have done better.

However, Uruguay’s dream was snuffed out by two quick goals in the closing stages.

Sneijder found the net from just inside the area in the 70th minute although there was a hint of suspicion that Robin van Persie was off-side.

But there was nothing controversial about Robben’s terrific header that made it 3-1 after Bayern Munich’s former Chelsea man connected with Dirk Kuyt’s cross to ensure the Netherlands reached the final on the back of six straight victories at South Africa 2010.

Uruguay (4-4-2): Muslera; M Pereira, Godin, Victorino, Caceres; Perez, Arevalo, Gargano, A Pereira (Abreu 78); Cavani, Forlan (S Fernandez 84).

Netherlands (4-5-1): Stekelenburg; Boulahrouz, Heitinga, Mathijsen, van Bronckhorst; Kuyt, van Bommel, Sneijder, de Zeeuw (Van der Vaart 46), Robben (Elia 90); van Persie.

Source: CBS Sports


Sneijder and Robben help Dutch have the final say

There were cries of injustice at the final whistle from the same Uruguay players, believe it or not, who shamelessly celebrated Ghana’s demise in the quarter-final; who heralded Luis Suarez as a national hero for what he then dared proclaim a moment of divine intervention.

Without the suspended Suarez’s ‘Hand of God’ to provide extra defensive cover on the goal-line, however, Oscar Tabarez’s side were soundly beaten here.

They complained bitterly to the officials, citing what appeared to be a cynical, off-the-ball challenge from Mark van Bommel on Walter Gargano in the build-up to Holland’s opening goal and a possible penalty when Giovanni van Bronckhorst caught Edinson Cavani

They also seemed to think a shot from Egidio Arevalo was blocked by a hand in the dying seconds, although replays suggested they were mistaken about that one.

Ugly scenes nevertheless marked the end of the game. But after what happened in the previous round, Africa was not about to weep for a South American side that showed not a hint of humility towards the side they eliminated in the last eight, even if they deserved credit for performing beyond all expectations at this tournament.

Brazil and Argentina were supposed to be in the semi-finals. Not this well organised, if rather devious, Uruguay team. This time they lost to superior opponents.

The Dutch started nervously, failing to build on a thunderbolt of an opening strike from Van Bronckhorst and so allowing Uruguay to equalise thanks to yet another goal from Diego Forlan and another goalkeeping error. But they finished in style – to secure Holland’s first appearance in a World Cup final in 32 years – not least in the form of the decisive goal from Arjen Robben.

Sheer joy: Holland captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst celebrates his stunning opener as fellow goalscorers Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder look on (Photo: EPA)

Robben divides opinion when it comes to his performances but the Bayern Munich winger last night scored a goal of exceptional quality. Not just because he unleashed a header that was so perfectly placed but because, from a floated cross by Dirk Kuyt, came a finish of extraordinary power.

From the player renowned for histrionics came another chapter in the history of Holland’s football, and a chance to contest a final on an equal footing for the first time. In 1974 and 1978 they had to face the tournament hosts. Not this time, though.

If they are to beat Germany or Spain, they will probably have to play better than this. But in players like Robben, Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder, who continued his remarkable season with a fourth goal of this World Cup, they certainly have a chance. They have already conquered Brazil, after all.

They opened the scoring last night with an 18th-minute shot from Van Bronckhorst which so spectacular that there was a feeling even two goalkeepers would have struggled to stop it.

The Jabulani ball left the Holland captain’s left foot like a bullet, flying straight and hitting 61mph en route to the back of the Uruguay net.

But Fernando Muslera might well wince at the fact that he was beaten from 35 yards by an effort that, had he responded quicker and got his positioning right, should have been dealt with more successfully.

As it was, he got a slight touch on the ball before seeing it fly in off his left-hand post and so challenge Maicon’s effort against North Korea for goal of the tournament.

Bert van Marwijk’s side made the mistake, though, of sitting on what remained the slimmest of advantages, and duly paid for their complacency shortly before the break when Forlan became the first player since Lothar Matthaus in 1990 to score three goals from outside the box at a World Cup.

Maarten Stekelenburg had sent Suarez a text saying his Ajax teammate deserved the Lev Yashin Award for goalkeeper of the tournament after his red card save against Ghana.

Well, Stekelenburg can certainly rule himself out of the running after the way he failed to deal with a relatively simple 25-yard curling shot from Forlan. It was a real shocker, in the Robert Green class.

There was one crucial difference. While not one England player went to Green to console him during England’s encounter with the USA, Van Bronckhorst acted just as a captain should and helped his team-mate to his feet.

It amounted to a major wake-up call for the Dutch. They had enjoyed the majority of the possession but there was a lack of urgency in their play. Van Persie had a quiet opening half and so did Sneijder against a Uruguay defence that had conceded just two goals en route to this tense semi-final.

With Rafael van der Vaart in midfield in the second half, however, the Dutch improved, two goals in three minutes after the interval finally propelling them towards Johannesburg’s Soccer City.

Sneijder struck in the 70th minute, albeit with the help of a slight deflection, and the appearance of Van Persie in what an angry Tabarez declared was an offside position. Replays seemed to suggest he was level.

That terrific header from Robben then followed, and in second-half stoppage time a goal from Maximiliano Pereira that could yet cost Stekelenburg his place for an all-European final.

Holland’s only other problem, apart from their goalkeeper, is accommodation. The country’s football association had only booked their hotel until July 5, so now FIFA must find them somewhere to stay in the days leading up to Sunday’s final.

Source: Daily Mail

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