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Dutch conquer Brazil to reach World Cup semis

Netherlands' Wesley Sneijder celebrates after kicking the ball

Netherlands' Wesley Sneijder celebrates after kicking the ball toward goal, which led to an own goal by Brazil's Felipe Melo. (July 2, 2010) Credit: AP

Dutch fans can start thinking about it now.

In a not-so-improbable upset, the Netherlands scored twice in the second half -- after getting utterly outplayed in the first -- to defeat five-time champion Brazil, 2-1, in the World Cup quarterfinals at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

Wesley Sneijder played a key role in both goals, serving the ball into the box that resulted in an own goal and scoring the game-winner in the 68th minute. The Netherlands are into the semifinals -- one step closer to its first World Cup title.

PHOTOS: Netherlands 2, Brazil 1

The winning goal came on a play that's been attempted several times in the World Cup, yet rarely executed. A corner kick was delivered low and to the near post, where Dirk Kuyt beautifully flicked it into the middle of the box. Sneijder was waiting and deflected it into the top left corner for a goal that will help cement his place among the great Dutch players to have played the sport.

VOTE: Will Sneijder win the Golden Boot?

For Brazil, it's a shocking exit for the No. 1-ranked team in the world. It looked every bit the better team in the first half, dominating the Dutch at times, but fell apart for the final 45 minutes. After allowing the tying goal, the Brazilians looked lost out there.

One reason for their demise was midfielder Felipe Melo, who delivered one of the best assists in the World Cup in the 10th minute. Later in the game, he wrote his World Cup legacy.

Melo scored the own goal that allowed the Netherlands to tie the game. After the Dutch pulled ahead in the 68th minute, Melo was sent off five minutes later for tripping winger Arjen Robben and stomping on his hamstring. Brazil was left with 10 men and a one-goal deficit to make up.

That never happened.

The Netherlands will face the winner of the Ghana-Uruguay match, played later today. The Dutch should be a tremendous favorite over either team.

New York Sports