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Brazil buried

Van Bommel and Robben in World Cup semis

Bayern stars Mark van Bommel and Arjen Robben are through to the World Cup semi-finals with the Netherlands. The men in orange stunned favourites Brazil by coming back from a goal down to win 2-1 in Friday’s quarter-final clash. A 42,000 crowd at Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth saw Robinho hand the South Americans a tenth-minute lead, but the dominant Brazilians were rocked when Felipe Melo put through his own goal on 53 minutes, and Wesley Sneijder edged the Dutch in front fifteen minutes later. Rubbing salt into the wound, Melo was sent off for retaliation with almost 20 minutes to play. In next Tuesday's last four clash in Cape Town, Robben and Co now face Uruguay, penalty shoot-out winners over Ghana in a dramatic second quarter-final on Friday night.

Robben the inspiration

“That was 100 percent passion and a really tough fight,” an exhausted Van Bommel said after a bruising battle featuring crunching tackles from both sides. “Brazil were much better than us in the first half.” However, the tide turned after the Elftal’s lucky equaliser. “We controlled the game after that,” the Bayern captain observed. The Dutch never looked back after Sneijder’s goal, especially once Felipe Melo kicked out at the prone Robben and received his marching orders. Bert van Marwijk’s men comfortably saw off the increasingly scrappy South Americans after that.

“The first 20 minutes weren’t good, but we played very well in the second half and deserved to win,” Robben enthused afterwards. Van Bommel turned in his usual rock-solid display in the holding role, with Robben posing more and more of a threat down the right flank as the game wore on. “We put them under a lot of pressure,” the winger commented. Both Bayern men completed the full 90 minutes.

Fourth visit to semis

The victory, the Netherlands’ first over Brazil in 36 years, sees the men in orange through to the last four of the World Cup for the fourth time. Van Bommel and Robben will now hope to go all the way and claim the trophy. “This is where it starts for real,” Robben declared.