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Sneijder sends Dutch through
Published : 02 Jul 2010 17:31:52
Wesley Sneijder dumped favourites Brazil out of the World Cup as Holland won 2-1 to finally get the better of their South American nemesis.
But they had to come from behind to avenge their heartbreaking defeats of 1994 and 1998 and book their place in the semi-finals.
Robinho, who had already had an effort ruled out for offside, fired the Brazilians ahead with just 10 minutes gone, and the Dutch struggled to cope during the opening 45 minutes. But Felipe Melo's 53rd-minute own goal gave them fresh impetus and Sneijder won it 22 minutes from time as Melo was dismissed for stamping on Arjen Robben.
Robinho thought he had given the South Americans the lead with just eight minutes gone after Luis Fabiano and Dani Alves combined to carve open the path to goal and he supplied the finish, however, an offside flag ended that celebration, but the Â£32.5million man did not have to wait too long for a chance to ease his disappointment.
This time, it was defensive midfielder Melo who split the Dutch rearguard wide open with a straight ball down the middle, and Robinho left orange shirts floundering in his wake as he beat keeper Maarten Stekelenburg with consummate ease.
But for Stekelenburg, the game would effectively have been over by the break with the Ajax man pulling off a fine one-handed save to keep out Kaka's curling 31st-minute effort after Robinho and Luis Fabiano had left Holland once again chasing shadows down the left.
After the interval, the Dutch resumed in more determined fashion, and they got their reward within eight minutes of he restart when, after Sneijder had curled a cross hopefully into the penalty area, Julio Cesar and Melo challenged each other and the ball went in off the midfielder's head.
Holland took the lead with 22 minutes remaining when Dirk Kuyt flicked on Robben's corner and Sneijder steered a header into the net.
Melo received his marching orders five minutes later for senselessly stamping on Robben with his side's World Cup dream rapidly unravelling.
Andre Ooijer's last-ditch tackle denied Kaka five minutes from time, and there was no way back for the five-time winners.