CAPE TOWN - The Dutch did not serve up a
footballing master class on Tuesday but the tide of orange
attackers still proved too much for Uruguay in the World Cup
semi-final in Cape Town.
The Netherlands ended South American participation at the
tournament with a 3-2 win at the Green Point Stadium but had to
hang on desperately in stoppage time at the end of the match as
Uruguay kept up a determined attitude throughout.
The Dutch win was their 14th successive victory in a World
Cup matches from the start of the preliminaries for the 2010
finals and underlines the quality they will take into Sunday's
final at Soccer City in Johannesburg.
Playing with up to four attackers at times, they had too
much quality, skill and guile for an under-strength Uruguay and
deserved their success.
But it was not until just before the final quarter-hour that
they were able to put some distance between themselves and their
opponents and even then still found they needed some grim
defending at the end to stymie a potentially miraculous
The 18th minute goal from Giovanni van Bronckhorst came
after the Dutch took the early initiative but the brilliant long
range strike served only to see them reduce the intensity of
their approach and allow Uruguay to find space on the counter
attack, especially on the right side of the Dutch defence.
Diego Forlan's 41st minute equaliser was as equally
speculative but underlined how the sudden loss of tempo put
Dutch supremacy at risk.
Coach Bert van Marwijk sought to regain the upper hand with
the introduction of the more attacking Rafael van der Vaart into
a central midfield role after half time.
It meant the Dutch could conjure up opportunities with a
veritable posse of attackers.
The persistent probing of Uruguay's defence eventually led
to a breakthrough with Wesley Sneijder squeezing a shot through
in the 70th minute followed soon after by an Arjen Robben header
to make it 3-1.
That the Dutch put more goals past Uruguay in a single match
than they had conceded in five previous matches at the finals in
South Africa, can also be attributed to the absence of injured
Nicolas Lodeiro in defence and the suspension of Jorge Fucile,
who had played major roles in a previously stingy back four.
Despite the tide of supporter sentiment against them, and
having to cope with the running of Robben and the continual
shifting of the ball by the Dutch, Uruguay still managed to set
up a thrilling finale after Maximiliano Pereira pulled a goal
back right at the end of the game.
In the end, as a chilly wind blew in over the stadium, the
dominant Dutch were forced into some desperate tackling to keep
intact their lead and ensure a place in the final for the first
time since the last winter World Cup in Argentina 32 years ago.
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