Five times World Champions, Brazil, have exited the 2010 FIFA World Cup this afternoon at Port Elizabeth as the Netherlands produced a second half comeback to defeat the South American favourites 2-1 in a thrilling encounter.
Brazil opened the scoring through the impressive Robinho on 10 minutes with the little striker – so good at this World Cup – the only player on the pitch to get on the score-sheet in an absorbing first half.
In the second half, Brazil shot themselves in the foot, with Felipe Melo enduring a painful day at the office in defence. First, the player scored a 53rd minute own goal to level the scores befor he was sent off on 73 minutes for a nasty stamp on Arjen Robben. By the time he walked off the pitch, however, Brazil were trailing, as Wesley Sneijder had scored with a header on 68 minutes.
With a man down, and the Dutch looking serious and organised at the back, Brazil had it all to do, and they failed to get even a shot on target despite some intense pressure. The Dutch seemed to have taken heed of how well North Korea had kept out Brazil with a compact approach.
The Netherlands could have trailed 2-0, earlier in the match, however, but for a phenomenal Maarten Stekelenburg save from Kaka in the opening 45 minutes.
That said, when the final whistle blew, few could argue with the performance from the men in ornage – yet another FIFA World Cup 2010 match had been won by the perceived weaker team – for purely tactical reasons.
Brazil seem only to be able to play one style of football – in this respect they are similar to Spain – and teams that are organised enough to cut out their passing game through the middle and sit in a nice and compact shape can disrupt such an approach, as today has evidenced. The question, however, is which of the sides that remain is able to organise itself this well. Certainly Netherlands and Germany – so impressive against England last week – offer a real threat of toppling the flair of Argentina and Spain by shutting them down in the final third.
This fascinating element has brought a real air of uncertainty to South Africa 2010. After a turgid first week, followed by a few surprise results, today’s match – and the result – is enough to make us look forward to a football match once more.
One thing is for sure, the teams in the rest of the draw probably heaved a sigh of relief to see the mighty Brazil go out. But underestimate this smart Dutch line-up at your peril – this outfit knows how to win a football match.
01 Stekelenburg, 02 Van Der Wiel, 03 Heitinga, 05 Van Bronckhorst, 13 Ooijer, 06 Van Bommel, 08 De Jong, 10 Sneijder, 07 Kuyt, 09 Van Persie (Huntelaar, 85), 11 Robben
01 Julio Cesar, 02 Maicon, 03 Lucio, 04 Juan, 06 Michel Bastos (Gilberto, 62), 13 Daniel, 05 Felipe Melo, 08 Silva, 10 Kaka, 09 Luis Fabiano (Nilmar, 77), 11 Robinho
- Brazil – Robinho, 10
- Netherlands – Felipe Melo (OG), 53
- Netherlands – Sneijder, 68