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Dutch touch


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Dutch touch

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CAPE TOWN – The Netherlands turned on the style in the second half to reach their third World Cup final – and first in 32 years – with a 3-2 victory over Uruguay yesterday.Wesley Sneijder scored his fifth goal in South Africa and Giovanni van Bronckhorst added one of the goals of the tournament. Arjen Robben also scored as the Dutch never looked troubled despite a late onslaught from the two-time champions from South America.Tough fight“This is unforgettable,” Sneijder said. “It was a tough fight and toward the end we complicated matters. Sunday we play in the World Cup final. I have to get used to that.”Van Bronckhorst scored with a 35-yard shot in the 18th minute, but Diego Forlan equalised in the 41st with his fourth goal of the tournament.Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk replaced Demy de Zeeuw with Rafael van der Vaart at halftime and the attacking move paid off as Sneijder and Robben scored after the break.Injury timeMaximiliano Pereira scored for Uruguay in injury time but the Dutch weathered the late Uruguayan pressure, and the Orange-clad fans at Green Point Stadium erupted at the final whistle.“This is very special,” said Van Marwijk, who took over as coach two years ago. “After 32 years we play the final again. Such a small country. We can be very proud of this.”Most of the jubilant Dutch squad returned to the field 45 minutes after the match to dance and cheer with a group of about 1 000 orange-clad fans cheering and beating drums.As the players danced, the fans chanted, “Holland! Holland! Holland!”The Netherlands’ only international title came at the 1988 European Championship, but they are now on a 25-match unbeaten run and have won ten straight as they head to a World Cup final.Seen as beautiful footballers but perennial underachievers on the world stage, the Netherlands have played a tougher brand of football in South Africa, aiming to dominate possession and wait for openings rather than carve open defences with creative flair.Worked as one“I love attacking and beautiful football, but you have to work together when the opponent has the ball and then you can go a long way,” Van Marwijk said.It has served the team well – the Netherlands are the only team with a perfect record at the World Cup.“We are so close,” said Sneijder, who already won the Italian league and cup double and the Champions League this season with Inter Milan. “There is nothing bigger than the World Cup.”Ending careerFor Van Bronckhorst, who is ending his playing career after the World Cup, it was his first goal of the tournament and only the sixth of his 105-match international career.He said before the match that he wanted the Dutch to play more beautiful football, and the Netherlands captain showed the way with his stunning goal.The Dutch put the match out of Uruguay’s reach with two goals in quick succession in the second half. Sneijder’s low shot in the 70th was deflected by Pereira and past Muslera. Then Robben leapt to head home a cross from the left by Dirk Kuyt three minutes later. (AP)Line-upsNetherlands – Maarten Stekelenburg, Khalid Boulahrouz, John Heitinga, Joris Mathijsen, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Dirk Kuyt, Mark van Bommel, Wesley Sneijder, Demy de Zeeuw (Rafael van der Vaart, 46), Arjen Robben (Eljero Elia, 89), Robin van Persie.Uruguay – Fernando Muslera, Diego Godin, Mauricio Victorino, Martin Caceres, Maximiliano Pereira, Alvaro Pereira (Sebastian Abreu, 78), Diego Perez, Egidio Arevalo Rios, Walter Gargano, Edinson Cavani, Diego Forlan (Sebastian Fernandez, 85).

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