Orange Glee State


The Netherlands have knocked Brazil out of the World Cup. The pre-tournament favourites fell 2-1 to a resilient and disciplined Dutch side despite taking the lead in the first half. An own goal from centre half Felipe Melo and a Wesley Sneijder header enabled the Netherlands to overturn an early opener by Robinho.

Brazil took the lead in just ten minutes and totally dominated the first half hour but the Dutch kept themselves in the hunt with a sterling rearguard performance. When the Dutch began to pull themselves back into the match, Brazil’s discipline crumbled and Michel Bastos should have picked up a second yellow for a bad sliding tackle on Arjen Robben. From the free kick though, Melo headed into his own net and the Dutch were level. He was later finally sent off for an ugly stamp on a prone Robben.

The Netherlands started with the same side that beat Slovakia 2-1 in the last 16, with Arjen Robben making just his second start of the tournament after arriving injured and Rafael van der Vaart remaining on the bench. Brazil started much the better and had a goal ruled out, albeit correctly, for offside as early as the eighth minute. Dani Alves found Robinho who slotted past Maarten Stekelenburg, but Alves had received the ball in an offside position.

Two minutes later, Brazil netted again and this time it stood. Felipe Melo fired the ball upfield to find Robinho onside and he finished comfortably as the Brazilians looked ominously superior. They had played some beautiful football already and it seemed that the overrun Dutch may have to draw into examples from their folklore to withstand the onrush.

Lesser teams than the Dutch might have crumbled. Brazil were the better side throughout the first half forcing the Dutch keeper into action on several occasions. The most outstanding save came just after the half hour when Kaka’s curling effort was superbly tipped away by Stekelenburg’s top hand to produce perhaps the save of the tournament so far. The escape seemed to galvanise the Dutch who had spent the first half hour chasing blue shirted shadows.

Julio Cesar had to make his first save and Michel Bastos picked up a yellow card for ploughing through Robben as finally the Dutch mounted a fight back. The half finished with Cesar dropping a cross but Holland ran out of first half time and they trailed at the interval.

The second half belonged to them however. Seconds after Bastos was incredibly fortunate to escape his marching orders for nasty tackle on the irrepressible Robben in the 58th minute, Wesley Sneijder floated in a tantalising cross which both Felipe Melo and Julio Cesar went for.

The centre half Melo won that battle but his head flicked the ball over Cesar and into the now unguarded net. It was Brazil’s first ever own goal in World Cup final’s history in their 97th match. At 1-1, the Dutch tails were up and thereafter, Brazil descended into a sulky outfit whose tantrums at facing real competition illustrated an underlieing insecurity.

Brazil coach Dunga removed Bastos for Gilberto possibly because of the eventuality of a rec card if he mistimed one more tackle. It wasn’t to be enough.

22 minutes remained when Arjen Robben took a right wing corner. The lanky Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt rose to flick it further on at the near post and the indomitable Wesley Sneijder scored a rare header but probably the biggest goal of his career to put the Dutch now deservedly ahead.

Whereas the Oranje had reacted maturely to going a goal down, Brazil reacted like spoilt children and Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura endured a lexicon of Portuguese expletives from then on as Brazil players sought to influence his decisions.

His next big call was beyond argument in any language. Nishimura may have uttered one of his own (except that the Japanese language doesn’t actually have any) in 73 minutes when he witnessed at close quarters Felipe Melo stamp on Arjen Robben. He produced an immediate red and Brazil having been fortunate not to already be down to ten men had no complaints.

With plenty more scrappy but entertaining football, and spills at both ends, the match played out with Holland deserved winners. They are now 24 games unbeaten and have won their last nine matches. Having qualified from the easiest of UEFA’s World Cup groups and had the softest draw with only Paraguay, Denmark and Cameroon for opposition, the Dutch raised their game to the level of, and beyond, that of their illustrious opponents.

European pride has been restored and the South American juggernaut derailed, assuming the juggernaut was on tracks in the first place.

They will play the winners of Uruguay v Ghana.


The biggest shock of the World Cup as the favourites tumble, the experts are saying. We all thought Brazil would win the World Cup or at least be in the final. The BBC’s John Motson said:

“I think the Dutch will stretch Brazil but somehow or other the South Americans will go through.”

Not so one humble local pundit, speaking on KUOW’s Weekday program on Wednesday morning!

Listen to a Clip of Somebody Predicting Brazil’s Defeat Live and Fearlessly on KUOW’s Weekday Show


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