After 32 years, Netherlands reaches final again

After 32 years, Netherlands reaches final again

Netherlands' John Heitinga, front right, carries Wesley Sneijder, front left, as they celebrate following the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Uruguay and the Netherlands at the Green Point stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, on Tuesday. Netherlands defeated Uruguay 3-2. AP Photo
Captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst scored a super goal in the 18th minute before Wesley Sneijder (70th) and Arjen Robben (73rd) struck in quick succession for the Dutch in the first semifinal which was dull and drab for most part except for the last quarter.

Diego Forlan (41st), who wore the captain's arm band in the absence of Diego Lugano, and Maximiliano Pereira (90+2) scored for Uruguay at the Green Point Stadium.

The 'Oranje', who have won all their earlier matches en route to the semifinal, will take on either Germany or Spain in their only third World Cup final after 1974 and 1978 in the grand finale in Johannesburg on July 11.

The Dutch have been one of the world football's underachievers, having returned World Cup losing finalists in 1974 and 1978, and with just a 1988 Euro Championships title to boast off.

Uruguay, on the other hand, were seeking their first final in 60 years after their 1950 triumph. They had also won the tournament in 1930 besides reaching the semifinal in 1954 and 1970.

Dutch midfielder Sneijder today notched up his fifth goal of the tournament and now equals the other two Golden Boot competitors Miroslav Klose of Germany and Spain's David Villa.

The first half was more of a battle of midfield domination with few scoring chances but for two stunning long-rangers, one from each captain, which kept the scoreline level at 1-1.
The Netherlands set the pace of the match with Dirk Kyut getting the first chance but his right footer from well inside the Uruguay box off a move initiated by Robben ballooned over the bar.

Out of nowhere, Bronckhorst scored his first goal of the tournament with a stunning left-footer from around 30 meters in the 18th minute. Marco van Bommel sent in an innocuous pass to Bronckhorst who unleashed a blistering shot from the left side of the box and the ball crashed into the net after kissing Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera's left post.

Bronckhorst's counterpart Forlan responded in the 41st minute with another screaming strike -- also a left footer -- from just a few metres away from the 'D' circle which swerved and went in after hitting the left palm of Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg who had moved the wrong way.

The next half was still without much spark except for the three goals in the second period. Forlan had a free-kick from about 25 metres on target but was saved by a diving keeper in the 67th minute.

Next minute, Van der Vaart, who came in for Demy de Zeeuw in the second half, had a nice chance but the keeper blocked his shot diving to his left and Robben shot over from the rebound.

In the 70th minute, Sneijder's shot slipped through Maxi Pereira's legs and the slight deflection gave Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera no chance to stop it from entering into the net.

Three minutes later, Dirk Kuyt cut into the left side and his cross into the Uruguay box was met by a fabulous Robben header, directing it into the bottom right-hand corner of the net to make it 3-1.

Uruguay pulled one back in the second minute of the injury time through Maxi Pereira whose curling left-footer went past keeper Maarten Stekelenburg after Walter Gargano had played a free-kick quickly.

The South Americans pressed hard for the remaining two minutes of injury time to get an equaliser but to no avail.

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