URUGUAY 2-3 NETHERLANDS, Cape Town, 06/07/10
Forlan 41, M. Pereira 90+2; Van Bronckhorst 18, Sneijder 70, Robben 73
The Netherlands came through a stiff challenge from Uruguay to make UFWC history, and reach the World Cup Final for the first time since 1978.
The game started on a tame note, as both sides began to get a feel for each other, with nobody eager to make the first mistake in one of the biggest games of the players’ careers. However that didn’t stop both sides from trying, with both sides having some half-hearted efforts but no major threat.
That was until Giovanni Van Bronckhorst got hold of the ball. From an outrageous distance of over 40 yards, he took a sensational shot that aimed like an arrow into the top corner off the post, out of the reach of goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, in a goal that will surely be hailed as one of the best, if not the best, goals of the tournament.
The goal seemed to knock Uruguay off their feet as the Netherlands fought on for a second, but in the cruel game of football things are never that easy, as the momentum would soon swing in Uruguay’s favour. Following an accidental kick to the face of Demy De Zeeuw from Martin Caceres (an incident which led to a booking for Caceres, and for Wesley Sneijder for his reaction to the foul), it was Uruguay who were in the supremacy, and ultimately it was Diego Forlan who took advantage.
After finding some room just inside the Netherlands’ third of the pitch, he aimed the ball towards Maarten Stekelenburg’s goal, and even though the ball travelled down the centre of the goal the goalkeeper failed to get a firm hand behind it as Uruguay went into the interval in high spirits, and truly believing that they could reach the final.
Unfortunately, despite this, the second half, like the first, failed to impress in the opening exchanges, as the teams seemed too afraid of losing to actually try to win, and for a long time it seemed that a penalty shootout could be looming. But thankfully for the neutrals, things were about to get a lot more exciting.
After a good spell of Dutch possession, the ball eventually fell to Sneijder in the corner of the box. His shot on goal deflected off a Uruguayan defender and into the corner of the goal to restore a one-goal lead for the Dutch. However there was a hint of luck about the goal as Robin Van Persie, in an offside position, stuck his foot out to kick the ball en route, and even though he didn’t touch it the ball the linesman could easily have decided he was interfering with play and ruled the goal out. There is a saying that every World Cup winners gets a bit of luck along the way, could this have been it for the Netherlands?
And things got even better for the Dutch just three minutes later, when a cross from Dirk Kuyt found the head of Arjen Robben, who headed into the bottom corner, away from Muslera; their third goal of the match to go in off the post.
And Robben could easily have got a second, only for the goalkeeper to block the one-on-one shot. But despite being in the dominant position, the Netherlands finished the match with their backs against the ropes thanks to a late goal for Uruguay. A free kick outside the box was passed to Maxi Pereira, whose well-placed was fired out of Stekelenburg and into the corner, as the Dutch finished the game desperately defending their lead, but they held firm to book their place in the World Cup Final.
The result also “officially” makes this reign the best in UFWC history, having defended the title 21 times since claiming the trophy in November 2008.
In preparation for the World Cup Final we will not only preview the match following the conclusion of the Germany-Spain match, but we wil look at where the match wil fit into UFWC history, looking at previous World Cups and matches, and more, so stay tuned.