Dutch beat Uruguay to reach World Cup final
CAPE TOWN (AFP) – Real Madrid rejects Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder once again showed the Spanish giants what they are missing as the Dutch dynamos helped book the Netherlands a place in Sunday’s World Cup final.
The pair have been in sparkling form in South Africa and their second-half goals within three minutes of each other sealed Holland’s 3-2 win over Uruguay in Tuesday’s semi-final.
After captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst opened the scoring with an 18th-minute thunderbolt, Bayern Munich’s Robben and man-of-the-match Sneijder combined to floor the South Americans.
Uruguay captain Diego Forlan had given the Dutch a few nervous moments with his equaliser just before the half-time break, but Real’s former stars made sure the Oranje will contest Sunday’s final at Johannesburg’s Soccer City.
First, Inter Milan’s Sneijder slammed home his shot on 70 minutes which took a deflection off a Uruguay defender and rolled between Robin van Persie’s legs to put the Dutch 2-1 up.
Then Robben, who has brushed off a thigh injury he suffered in a pre-World Cup warm-up, scored with a rare hearder just three minutes later.
The only blot on Sneijder’s copy-book was his first-half yellow card, but the Dutch were not to be denied despite Maxi Pereira’s consolation goal just before the final whistle.
“It was a hard match, but all that is forgotten now and we are in the final,” said Sneijder, who now has five goals at the tournament.
“The most important thing now is to win. We are so close. There is nothing bigger than the World Cup.”
Sneijder and Robben could now be returning to Munich and Milan as potential world champions after being forced out of Madrid to make way for star signings Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Xabi Alonso.
Neither wanted to leave, but Real’s loss turned out to be Bayern and Inter’s gain as the pair were instrumental in their teams’ meeting, ironically, back at the Bernabeu for May’s Champions League final which Inter won 2-0.
Robben’s transfer to Bayern cost 24 million euros, but he immediately repaid the Bavarian giants faith with two goals in his first game for the Germans and was their star player on the way to winning the Bundesliga and German Cup.
His trademark runs down the wing saw him score 20 goals in all competitions on the way to Germany’s domestic double.
Likewise, Sneijder’s has been inspirational at Inter and his vision, passing and power-packed free-kicks have brought a new dimension to the Italian’s attacking play.
He has carried his form to South Africa with his 15 million euros transfer looking a snip.
The pair now have a chance to help Holland to their first World Cup title.
The Netherlands are breaking records with every game.
If they can win Sunday’s final, they will become only the second team to record a perfect World Cup campaign after Brazil in 1970, by winning every qualification and finals match.