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World Cup 2010, Brazil Vs. Netherlands: Wesley Sneijder Goal Knocks Out Favorites

One of the two pre-tournament favorites is out after the Netherlands defeated Brazil 2-1 today in Port Elizabeth.  The Dutch now move on to the semifinals, where they will face the winner of Ghana-Uruguay, while Brazil has been eliminated from the World Cup at the quarterfinal stage for the second consecutive tournament.

Four years ago, it was a 57th minute goal from Thierry Henry on Brazil's way to a 1-0 loss to France.  This year, it was an own goal from Felipe Melo and a headed goal from Wesley Sneijder that brought the Dutch back from a halftime deficit to win 2-1.

Brazil went up in the tenth minute after Melo took advantage of a Netherlands' defensive mistake, played a ball from his own half to attacker Robinho, who beat Maarten Stekelenburg from 18 yards out for the opening goal.

Brazil went on to control the first half, going close again in the 31st minute when Kaká tried to curl a shot from the top of the box into Stekelenburg's upper-left hand corner.  The Dutch `keeper's leaping save helped get the Netherlands to halftime down 1-0.

In the second half the Dutch proved the stronger side, getting an equalizer in the 53rd minute off a Melo own goal.  From a dead ball on the right flank. Sneijder eventually lofted a left-footed shot toward the middle of the penalty area.  goalkeeper Júlio César came to punch the ball clear but ran into the back of his midfielder, the ball going off Melo's head and into the goal from eight yards out.

Fifteen minutes later, a corner kick flicked from the near post by Dirk Kuyt found Sneijder, who headed into an unprotected net to give the Netherlands a 2-1 lead.

Five minutes later, Brazil's fate was sealed as Melo completed his chaotic day by earning a straight red card, kicking at the back of Arjen Robben's thigh after an attempted tackle had sent the Dutch winger to the group.  Referee Yuichi Nishimura dismissed the midfielder with 17 minutes left of regulation time, leaving Brazil a man down.

From there, the Dutch would protect their lead to reach their first semifinal since 1998, when they were eliminated on penalty kicks by Brazil.