WORLD CUP USA ‘94: QUARTERFINALS : Brazil Back in Semifinals Despite Dutch Masterpiece : Soccer: Branco’s free kick in 81st minute makes the difference after Netherlands battles back from 2-0 deficit.


Brazil’s 16 years of frustration were erased Saturday in a dazzling 30 minutes of storied soccer, wiped away by the world’s most devastating attack.

In one of the memorable moments of World Cup ‘94, Brazil reached the semifinals for the first time since 1978 by edging the Netherlands, 3-2, before 63,998 decorating the Cotton Bowl in streaks of yellow and orange.

The goals came quickly after a scoreless first half. They came between the 52nd and 81st minutes. And with them came heroics and controversy, the ingredients to fuel heated debates for some time.


“We gave a lesson in soccer,” said Romario, who scored Brazil’s first goal. “You saw soccer art today.”

If it was art, the scene was painted beforehand when two of the world’s strongest teams were destined to meet in the quarterfinals. Brazil had given up only one goal in its first four games but was criticized for lacking the electricity of its teams in the 1960s and ‘70s.

The Dutch were inconsistent until they defeated Ireland, 2-0, in the second round. But by playing an aggressive game, Holland was able to pick itself up after trailing, 2-0, in the 62nd minute.

And while Brazil was wiping away years of anguish, the Dutch were wiping away tears and trying to forget how it could have happened.

Coach Dick Advocaat refused to criticize the officiating, but it was clear his team thought it had been robbed.

“I think everybody saw the second goal the same way,” Advocaat said, refusing other questions about the referee because he did not want to be fined by FIFA, soccer’s governing body.


Midfielder Rob Witschge, however, let his feelings be known.

“The referees were terrible, especially the linesmen,” he said.

Even the winning goal was controversial. Holland’s Wim Jonk was called for kicking Branco in the leg after the ball passed. But the Dutch thought Branco was in the wrong because he was holding off defenders with his hand.

Referee Rodrigo Badilla Sequeira of Costa Rica ignored the protests and awarded Branco a free kick in the 81st minute. Holland built a five-man wall with a slight gap to goalkeeper Ed De Goey’s left.

Branco, 30, a member of three World Cup teams, kicked to his right from 28 yards and split the wall. The ball touched the inside of the post to give Brazil its final lead and the right to play the winner of today’s Sweden-Romania match in Wednesday’s semifinal at the Rose Bowl.

“I was trying to think positively and trying to get the foul, but the goal was a big surprise to me,” said Branco, making his first appearance in the tournament.

Branco, who has suffered from a lower back injury, played only because Leonardo was suspended for four matches after he elbowed Tab Ramos of the United States during Monday’s second-round victory.

Before he took the kick, Branco looked at the scoreboard and saw that 10 minutes were left.


“It was the right moment, just the moment to do it,” he said.

The moment was made after Holland stopped Brazil’s freight-train offense with two quick goals that dramatically changed the game.

With the suddenness of Brazil’s scores, Dennis Bergkamp made it 2-1 with an aggressive move past Aldair and Marcio Santos and a half-volley out of the reach of keeper Claudio Taffarel. Twelve minutes later, Aron Winter tied the score on a header off a corner kick by Marc Overmars.

Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira of Brazil was relieved his team did not fold after squandering the lead.

“This team has emotional balance,” he said. “We came back when many teams would have gone down.”

Although it was a thriller to the end, the Brazilians said they deserved to win. The players thought they outplayed Holland, particularly in the second half.

The first goal was ignited when Aldair intercepted a long ball from Frank Rijkaard and passed to Bebeto as he raced down the left wing. Romario, shadowed by his good friend Stan Valckx, took off toward the center and caught Valckx off guard. Bebeto passed to his teammate, and Romario easily beat De Goey from 10 yards in the 52nd minute.


Seven minutes later, Jorginho passed to Bebeto, who eluded Jan Wouters, then went around De Goey and scored. The Dutch had stopped because they thought Bebeto was offside.

“Nobody ever heard of these linesmen before,” Witschge said of Yousif Al-Ghattan of Bahrain and Mohammed Fanaei of Iran. “And nobody will ever hear of them again.”

The frustration of coming so close was evident.

“At 2-2 we had the game well under control,” Witschge said. “We thought Brazil was history. Then something stupid happens.”

And that is all it took for Brazil to continue its quest for its fourth world championship.