Robin van Persie, Daley Blind and Georginio Wijnaldum scored as the Netherlands defeated hosts Brazil 3-0 in the FIFA World Cup third-place play-off on Saturday at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia.
Van Persie netted a penalty in the third minute, moments after Arjen Robben was pulled back by Brazil captain Thiago Silva along the edge of the hosts' box. Blind doubled the lead 13 minutes later following a poor clearance by David Luiz. The scoreline remained the same until second-half stoppage time, when Wijnaldum slotted in his side's third after a flowing move.
Both halves featured controversy, with referee Djamel Haimoudi controversially awarding the Netherlands a penalty early in the match before denying a seemingly clear-cut appeal from the hosts after half-time.
This is the first time the Netherlands have finished third at a World Cup, but the Oranje are no strangers to the latter stages of the tournament. The Dutch were runners-up in 1974, 1978 and 2010 and finished fourth in 1998.
With their World Cup completed, the Netherlands will now turn their attention to Euro 2016 qualification, opening their campaign on Sept. 9 against the Czech Republic in Prague. After Saturday's win, however, the Oranje will have a new manager, with Guus Hiddink replacing Louis van Gaal as the latter prepares to take charge of famed English club Manchester United.
For Brazil, it was a continuation of the nightmare that began against Germany in the semi-finals. Following that humiliating 7-1 defeat, the five-time champions quickly fell behind against the Netherlands as well, slumping to a second consecutive World Cup defeat for the first time since 1970.
The future is unclear both for Brazil and for manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led his country to a record fifth World Cup title in 2002 but received heavy criticism following the loss to Germany. Twelve years have passed since that 2002 triumph, and by the time Brazil play in the 2015 Copa America, the Selecao could have some new faces on the pitch and along the touchline.
Moments before kick-off, Wesley Sneijder pulled out of the Netherlands' starting XI after sustaining a hamstring injury in warmups. He was replaced by Jonathan de Guzman. His teammates were apparently unfazed. Within three minutes, the Dutch were ahead.
In just the second minute, Robben raced free onto a clever pass from Van Persie behind Brazil's defence. As he bore down on the box, Robben was pulled back by Silva, prompting Haimoudi to blow his whistle for a penalty.
Brazil's players protested the call, and replays showed the foul occurred outside the box. But the Selecao were granted a reprieve when Haimoudi showed Silva only a yellow card.
One minute later, Van Persie powered in the spot-kick high and to his right for a 1-0 Netherlands lead.
The Dutch then doubled their advantage in the 16th minute following a defensive miscue from Brazil. Centre-back David Luiz was the culprit, directing a poorly headed clearance straight at Blind in the middle of the box. Blind controlled the ball expertly with his left foot before blasting in with his right to make it 2-0.
Brazil struggled to respond. The hosts tried to cut the deficit in half in the 21st minute with Oscar driving a low shot that was saved by Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen. Seven minutes before half-time, Luiz Gustavo flicked an Oscar cross toward the back post, where both Paulinho and David Luiz had a chance to turn the ball in. Neither could connect, and Brazilian went into the break trailing by two goals.
The hosts improved after the break, enjoying a strong spell starting around the 60th minute, when Ramires fired a low shot wide of the far post. Three minutes later, Luiz hit a dipping free-kick over the wall, but Cillessen was well-positioned to save.
Brazil thought they had won a penalty in the 68th minute but instead found only more frustration. Bursting into the box, Oscar went to ground following a challenge by Blind. But in a decision that incensed the Brazilians, referee Haimoudi waved away the hosts' penalty appeals and instead booked Oscar for simulation.
Brazil's attacks fizzled thereafter, substitute Hulk shooting high and wide from distance in the 75th minute before Oscar missed the target four minutes later following a Willian corner.
With time running out, the Netherlands stretched their lead to 3-0 in the first minute of stoppage time with a fine team move. Robben held up play on the right before laying off for Daryl Janmaat. The latter then crossed into the middle, where Wijnaldum swept into the net at the near post.
All that was left for the Dutch was to introduce goalkeeper Michel Vorm—the only player on the roster who had not featured yet at the World Cup—for the closing moments. With that, the Netherlands coasted to a well-deserved victory while Brazil were left to wonder where their campaign went so badly wrong.
|Brazil Player Ratings|
|Fernandinho (for Gustavo, 45')||N/A||6|
|Hernanes (for Paulinho, 57')||N/A||5|
|Hulk (for Ramires, 73')||N/A||5|
|Netherlands Player Ratings|
|Stefan de Vrij||7||7|
|Bruno Martins Indi||5||6|
|Robin van Persie||7||7|
|Daryl Janmaat (for Blind, 70')||N/A||6|
|Joel Veltman (for Clasie, 90')||N/A||No rating|
|Michel Vorm (for Cillessen, 90')||N/A||No rating|
(All quotes from FIFA.com.)
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal:
This game came around very quickly for us. We’ve had just three days to rebuild the team after the huge disappointment of dropping out of the hunt for a title we’d been aiming to win. We had to try and see the light at the end of the tunnel and today we did. Despite the resistance put up by Brazil, we won the game and that was marvellous. We’ve scored 15 goals over this campaign and I think that it’s unfair that we went out. Even so, we had a fantastic tournament. I’m proud of my team and my staff. I’d like to thank the Brazilian people, their authorities and FIFA for a really well organised tournament. We were always able to do things the way we wanted to.
Netherlands forward Arjen Robben:
First of all, I’d like to thank all the Brazilian people for the support they gave us. It was a great honour to play here, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Winning this game was the best way to round off our campaign. There’s no doubt we deserved to finish third, and nobody would have expected it [before the tournament]. It was a great achievement. We beat Brazil 3-0 in a game which was very tough for them mentally following their heavy defeat against Germany, but I wish them all the best for the future. I don’t know what’s going to happen between now and Russia 2018. There’s still four years to go, which is a long time, so we’ll see. Speaking for myself, if I’m still enjoying my football and I’m still in good enough shape I’m going to want to play. It’s always an honour to play for the national team.
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari:
We haven’t ended the competition well. We had the impression that it was going to be a very even game, but we conceded an early goal and that tipped the balance in their favour. I don’t think that we played badly though, and I think the players deserve credit for what they achieved out on the pitch. The team battled and created chances. The one who will decide my future is the President [of the CBF]. We agreed beforehand that, once the competition was over, win or lose, we’d hand the reins to the FA directors [while a decision is made]. We’re going to finish off our report, hand it in to the President, and he’ll know what to do next.