Dutch shock Brazilians; Uruguay edges Ghana
PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa - Soccer's perennial World Cup underachievers from the Netherlands knocked off mighty Brazil on Friday, marking the Dutch as a strong contender to finally win that elusive title.
Wesley Sneijder, at 5-foot-7 one of the shortest players on the field, scored in the 68th minute on a header for a stunning, 2-1 quarterfinals win over the five-time champions.
"It just slipped through from my bald head and it was a great feeling," Sneijder said.
He was in the middle of the postgame party, too, as his teammates swarmed him when the final whistle blew. Johnny Heitinga picked up Sneijder and slung him over his shoulder as Netherlands captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst, a Brazil shirt in hand, leaped up and rubbed Sneidjer's closely shaved head.
The result was a case of role reversal for both sides.
The Dutch made the championship match in 1974 and 1978, lost both, and rarely have lived up to their talent in other World Cups. They did this time, helped by an own goal off the head of the unfortunate defender Felipe Melo that brought them into a 1-1 tie in the 53d.
Top-ranked Brazil, which also went out in this round four years ago against France, lost its composure after it fell behind and Felipe Melo was ejected in the 73d minute for stomping on the leg of Arjen Robben.
Yet, Felipe Melo was almost the hero.
Robinho gave the Brazilians the lead on the defender's brilliant low pass up the middle of the field that the striker put home with a low shot.
But the second half presented the unusual sight of the Brazilians scrambling wildly to find an equalizer.
It never came.
Instead, it was the Oranje and their fans doing the dancing as Brazil's players lay on the turf.
The title that has eluded the Dutch for all these years is now just two wins away.
Uruguay 1, Ghana 1
JOHANNESBURG - Uruguay advanced when Ghana missed a penalty kick at the very end of extra time, then won the shootout, 4-2, after a 1-1 draw in their quarterfinal Friday. The wild win sent the South Americans into the semifinals for the first time in 40 years. It sent the final African team left in the tournament home in tears.
Sebastian Abreu chipped in his penalty kick to give Uruguay a spot opposite the Netherlands in the final four.
Ghana missed twice in the shoot-out, but wouldn't have been there had Asamoah Gyan not hit the crossbar on the final play of overtime.
Sulley Muntari, known more for bad attitude than good play, gave Ghana the lead in the final seconds of the first half.
Diego Forlan tied it with a free kick early in the second.