In a World Cup full of upsets, the Netherlands have pulled off the biggest.
The Dutch erased a one-goal halftime deficit to defeat top-ranked Brazil 2-1 to advance to the semifinals, where they will meet the winner of Uruguay and Ghana.
An own-goal by Brazil’s Felipe Melo tied the match early in the second half, and a header by Wesley Sneijder minutes later proved to be the winner.
Robinho opened the scoring for Brazil early in the first half.
Brazil appeared to be in complete control with a one-goal lead in the second half, as the Netherlands were finding it difficult to get anywhere near the Brazilian goal.
At the 53rd minute, Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar charged at a ball hit into the goal area by Sneijder that went off of Melo’s head and into the net.
After the goalkeeper’s misplay, Brazil lost composure, and Holland pressured for minutes until an Arjen Robben corner kick went off of Dirk Kuyt’s head straight to Sneijder who headed the ball in to give the Netherlands the lead.
Brazil became increasingly frustrated, and Melo was eventually sent off for repeatedly kicking at Robben’s hamstring when the Dutch midfielder was tripped.
Early in the first half, it appeared that the Dutch defence, that was thought to be the team’s weakness, would not hold up to the favoured Brazilian offense when Robinho capitalized on a miscue at the 10 minute mark.
Robinho took a pass that split the Netherlands defence and he moved in alone on Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg and calmly put the ball by the keeper to give Brazil the 1-0 lead.
Moments earlier, Brazil had appeared to exploit the Netherlands defence for a goal, but it was whistled down on the offside.
Brazil’s best chance for a second goal came late in the opening half when Kaka sent a booming shot heading straight for the upper right corner of the goal when a diving Stekelenburg deflected the ball over the net to make one of the more impressive saves of the World Cup.
Kaka had the lone scoring chance late in the second half for Brazil as they pressed to tie the match with 10 men, but his shot missed just wide of the net.