After Robinho’s early strike from a straight forward ball through the middle of the park, you could have thought Brazil were going to cruise into the semi final. During a dominant first half, Brazil failed to increase their 1 goal advantage against a Dutch side that lacked ideas in the first half.
Half Time Oranjes Done the Trick
A game of two halves was one way to describe this match, as Brazil became the lacklustre side in the second half. A Wesley Sneijder left-footed cross flicked off the head of Felipe Melo inside ten minutes of the restart with Julio Cesar completely missing with his punch attempt.
After the equaliser, Brazil never recovered. Netherlands were on top of the game and they went in front when Wesley Sneijder headed home Dirk Kuyt’s flick on from an Arjen Robben corner. Robben wasn’t as commanding in this match as expecting. Felipe Melo was well-disciplined in marking him, but fortunate not to receive a second yellow card for a foul on Robben in the second half. Shortly after, Carlos Dunga made the right decision to sub his left back.
Felipe Melo’s day would go from bad to worse in the final fifteen minutes as he was shown a straight red card for a stamp on Arjen Robben. Brazil failed to test Maarten Stekelenburg after that and the Netherlands book themselves into their first World Cup semi final since 1998. I expect Carlos Dunga to step down as Brazil boss in the coming days.
Ghana Pay the Penalty
In the evening game, Sulley Muntari’s wonder strike on half time gave Ghana a surprise lead. After a nervous start, Uruguay allowed Ghana into the game and gave them lots of space in the middle of the park to create chances.
A sweet free kick from Diego Forlan shortly after half time drew the scores level as the game was stretched afterwards. Both teams failed to play the killer ball during the rest of normal time. Both sets of players made a tired start to extra time, 3 Ghana players staying down on the floor to get a breather during the first half. That was not the case in the second half of extra time as Ghana showed more energy. And in stoppage time they had the perfect chance to win it when Luis Suarez was sent off to a handball on the goal line to prevent Ghana winning. Asamoah Gyan, with the last kick of the game could have won it, but blasted his penalty off the top of the bar. The second penalty shootout of this tournament awaited.
Diego Forlan coolly slotted away the opening kick before Asamoah Gyan showed great courage in stepping up to take Ghana’s first. He converted it in style, placing it into the top corner, above Fernando Muslera’s dive. But it would be the Uruguayan keeper who would have the last laugh as he saved two tame penalties from John Mensah and Dominic Adiyiah. The Lazio goalkeeper dived the right way on all four spot kicks he faced, making contact with the ball on three of them. Sebastian Abreu would cheekily dink the deciding spot kick down the middle and book Uruguay’s place in the semi final, to face Netherlands. Luis Suarez will miss that match but will be back from suspension to play in Uruguay’s final match, whether it be the final or third-place playoff.
The worst day for me so far during this World Cup, having backed both Brazil and Uruguay to win in 90 minutes. It takes away some of the large profit made from this competition. Hopefully I can make it back tomorrow.