WHEN it was all over, it was the Netherlands receiving a standing ovation from the Brazilian crowd. Brazil walked off the field to boos, after another demoralising loss to end their home World Cup.
Brazil 0-3 Netherlands
Scorers: Netherlands - Van Persie (3 pen), Blind (16), Wijnaldum (90)
The Netherlands’ remarkable campaign ended on a high note after Robin van Persie and Daley Blind scored early goals to help give Louis Van Gaal’s team a 3-0 win over Brazil in the third-place game on Saturday.
“We can look back at a very successful tournament,” Dutch coach Van Gaal said. “I’m proud of my players.”
The win meant the Netherlands finished a World Cup unbeaten in regular play for the first time, having lost to Argentina on penalties in the semi-finals. After finishing runners-up in 2010, third place is the best position for the Dutch squad since they lost the final in 1974 and 1978.
The Brazilian fans loudly greeted the Dutch players after they received their third-place medals, applauding on their feet.
“I would like to thank all people in Brazil for their great support,” Arjen Robben said. “For us it was the best way to end this tournament. We fully deserved third place the way we played. It’s a very big achievement.”
The loss added to Brazil’s misery at the home tournament following the disastrous 7-1 semi-final defeat by Germany. After the final whistle, the team was loudly booed by the near 70,000 fans that attended the match at the National Stadium in Brasilia.
Many had already left even before the late third goal by the Dutch. It was the first time since 1940 that Brazil had lost two consecutive competitive games on home soil.
“It’s a terrible feeling, I don’t know what to say,” said Chelsea midfielder Oscar. “After a huge loss to Germany, today we tried our best from the beginning to win third place but it wasn’t our day. We have to see what went wrong so we can improve for the future.”
Brazil ended their campaign having conceded 14 goals in the tournament, the most ever for the team. The previous worst had been 11 goals in the 1938 World Cup.
“It was supposed to be an even match but after the early goal things started going their way,” said Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. “I don’t think we played that badly. The players fought hard from the start. They created chances, so it’s difficult to lose 3-0. But they deserve all the credit in the end. They reached the semi-finals.”
Van Persie converted a penalty kick three minutes into the match after Robben was brought down by Brazil captain Thiago Silva on the edge of the area. Blind added to the lead in the 17th minute with a shot from near the penalty spot after defender David Luiz made a mistake while trying to clear a cross in front of the goal. Georginio Wijnaldum rounded off the win in injury time with a shot inside the near post.
“The most beautiful was our resilience. We were knocked out but we came back and finished third,” Wijnaldum said. “We wanted to close it out well.”
Scolari made six changes from the side that started in the loss against Germany, the national team’s worst defeat in their 100-year history.
However, Brazil looked lost from the start, making many of the same defensive mistakes that marked the defeat by the Germans five days ago.
Without the injured Neymar, their only world-class player, Brazil were also confused in midfield and toothless in attack, lacking any sort of spark or creativity.
Even taking into account the possibility that Scolari’s men were still shell-shocked after their mauling by Germany on Tuesday, it was an alarmingly lacklustre display for a team that has always had talent, whatever their tactics.
The meek manner in which they capitulated to a Dutch side that had failed to score in their previous two matches, including two periods of extra time, was extraordinary given the rich history of Brazilian football.
The defence once again cracked under the slightest hint of pressure. Central defender Silva, whose return after suspension was meant to stiffen the backline, gave away the penalty and was booked after 90 seconds for tripping Robben as he sped towards goal, leading to Van Persie’s firm left-foot penalty into the top-right corner to put the Dutch ahead.
The Dutch wanted a red card for Silva for a professional foul, but Algerian referee Djamel Haimoudi only produced a yellow.
Blind added to the lead after Luiz failed to clear a cross, heading the ball right back to the Dutch defender who fired home into the top corner.
Wijnaldum rounded off the scoring in injury time with a goal from inside the area after a cross by Daryl Janmaat.
The biggest disappointment for Brazil was in attack where Jo, the lone striker, proved just as ineffective as Fred, the hugely-criticised player he replaced, and it was hard to believe that Brazil has previously boasted the likes of Careca, Romario and Ronaldo in that position.
Both Fred and Jo were victims of Scolari’s insistence of playing with target men, even though Brazilian football is chronically short of that type of player.
“This will mark us for the rest of our lives. We need to try and lift our heads, look for strength in our families,” Brazil midfielder Ramires said. “We apologise to the Brazilian people.”
“It’s frustrating,” added Silva. “We didn’t deserve to have it end like this. But unfortunately it’s football.
“I have to apologise to our people. The fans supported us even during the 7-1 loss and again today. They booed in the end, but it was normal. They have feelings too.”
Brazil: Julio Cesar; Maicon, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Maxwell; Luiz Gustavo (Fernandinho, 46), Paulinho (Hernanes, 57), Ramires (Hulk, 73), Willian, Oscar; Jo. Subs not used: Jefferson, Dani Alves, Marcelo, Fred, Dante, Henrique, Bernard Victor.
Netherlands: Cillessen (Vorm, 90); Kuyt, Vlaar, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Clasie (Veltman, 90), Blind (Janmaat, 70); Wijnaldum, De Guzman; Robben, Van Persie. Subs not used: Verhaegh, Kongolo, Lens, Huntelaar. Depay, Krul.