Dutch master Brazil reaches World Cup semifinals; Uruguay moves on in penalty shootout

By Rob Murray, AP
Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dutch master Brazil reaches World Cup semifinals

JOHANNESBURG — One big upset and the wildest finish yet at the World Cup.

The first pair of quarterfinal matches at South Africa 2010 provided some of the most thrilling — and heartbreaking — moments at the tournament.

The Netherlands came from behind to upset mighty Brazil 2-1 on Friday and set up a semifinal with Uruguay, which beat Ghana 4-2 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw.

Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder was involved in both second-half goals in Port Elizabeth after Robinho had scored for Brazil in the 10th minute.

Brazil had dominated the Dutch, but crumbled after Sneijder’s cross in the 53rd minute was deflected into the Brazilian net by midfielder Felipe Melo. Sneijder then headed in the winner in the 68th from near the penalty spot once Dirk Kuyt had flicked the ball on from a corner.

Felipe Melo was shown a direct red card in the 73rd for stamping on Netherlands winger Arjen Robben, who tormented the Brazilian defense.

“We didn’t expect this,” Brazil coach Dunga said. “We know that any World Cup match is about 90 minutes. In the first half we were able to play better, and we weren’t able to maintain that rhythm in the second half.”

The Netherlands, which extended its unbeaten streak to 24 games since losing to Australia in September 2008, will play Uruguay on Tuesday in Cape Town. Ghana failed in its attempt to become the first African team to reach a World Cup semifinal.

Instead, Uruguay will be there for the first time since 1970.

The Celeste beat Ghana in the shootout after the last African team in the tournament missed a penalty kick in the final second of extra time.

Uruguay forward Luis Suarez was ejected for stopping a shot with his arms on the goal line and that set up Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan with a chance to win the game. But he hit the crossbar with his kick.

Then in the shootout, Sebastian Abreu casually chipped the last penalty straight down the middle to secure the win.

“To be among the four best (teams) in the world, there are no words for that,” said Uruguay forward Diego Forlan, who scored the equalizer with a free kick in the 55th minute. “We felt we were going to faint with each penalty.”

In Saturday’s quarterfinals, Argentina plays Germany in Cape Town and Spain takes on Paraguay in Johannesburg.

Germany coach Joachim Loew sought to tone down the prematch criticism of Argentina by saying his players respect their quarterfinal opponents.

In England, the Football Association decided to retain coach Fabio Capello despite the team’s disappointing World Cup run, which ended with a loss to Germany in the second round.

Capello has a contract through to the 2012 European Championship, and in the end it only took the FA five days to confirm that the Italian coach would be back to fulfill his contract.

“We will look to introduce new players to give the team new energy and I will use all my experience to take England forward,” Capello said. “I am extremely proud to be the England manager, it means so much to me and I am determined to succeed.”

Meanwhile, Laurent Blanc was officially appointed as France coach to replace Raymond Domenech at a French Football Federation council meeting following a World Cup showing that was even worse than England’s.

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