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Dutch defeat Uruguay; advance to World Cup final

Netherlands fans wait for the start of the

Netherlands fans wait for the start of the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Uruguay and the Netherlands at the Green Point stadium in Cape Town, South Africa. (July 6, 2010) Credit: AP

The Dutch are hoping for a charming third run to the World Cup final.

After defeating Uruguay, 3-2, in the semifinals of the World Cup, the Netherlands are back in the finals for the third time in its history and hope to bring home some hardware for a nation starved for its first title. In its previous two appearances in the final game, in 1974 and 1978, it lost to the host nation.

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Wesley Sneijder netted his fifth goal of the tournament for the go-ahead, somewhat-controversial strike in the 70th minute. Three minutes later, Arjen Robben headed home what would eventually be the game-winner.

Uruguay's Maxi Pereira scored two minutes into stoppage time to set up a frantic finish, but the Dutch held on and will play for the title Sunday at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg. They will face the winner of Wednesday's clash between Germany and Spain.

Yes, the World Cup winner will come from Europe. After South America placed four teams in the quarterfinals, none of them could make it all the way. For the first time in nearly 50 years, a continental region will take home back-to-back titles. The trophy had been passed back and forth between Europe and South America since 1962.

The game was tied, 1-1, after some first-half fireworks from both sides. Giovanni Van Bronckhorst provided arguably the goal of the tournament with a laser from about 40 yards out in the 18th minute.

As he has done numerous times this tournament, Diego Forlan responded. The Uruguayan striker scored his fourth goal of the tournament on another long-range strike that curled past a stunned Maarten Stekelenburg and into the net to tie the game in the 41st minute.

In the second half, Forlan couldn't muster another goal for the Uruguay offense, which was without Luis Suarez after his red-card suspension in the previous game. Forlan exited in the 84th minute after an epic, six-game performance.

The Dutch, behind Robben and Sneijder in the midfield and Dirk Kuyt and Robin Van Persie on the attack, will have their hands full in the final. But for now, it'll be one, big Orange party for the forseeable future.

New York Sports