Host Brazil gives up third place to the Netherlands, 3-0
As the Brazilian midfielder Oscar juked into the box, ball at his toe, and went down on impact precipitated by defender Daley Blind, the referee began digging out a punitive card. With a successful penalty kick, Brazil’s deficit would shrink to one in the second half and a modicum of soccer self-respect might be salvaged if it could score again.
But Djamel Haimoudi, the man in black with the cards, pulled out a yellow — for Oscar. Not until the 63rd game of the World Cup was a player convicted of a dive. And in a tournament with more dives than the late-night entertainment district in the bad part of town, it was cruelly fitting that only Brazil would get booked for a flop.
The final week of the World Cup was a monumental flop for the host team, which surrendered third place to the Netherlands, 3-0, on Saturday at National Stadium in Brasilia following a six-goal gutting by Germany in the semifinals.
“It’s a terrible feeling, I don’t know what to say,” Oscar said. “After a huge loss to Germany, today we tried our best from the beginning to win third place but it wasn’t our day. We have to see what went wrong so we can improve for the future.”
The Dutch managed to lure an earlier penalty kick, also under dubious circumstances. Defender Thiago Silva reached around the dribbling Arjen Robben and tried to slow his progress just outside the 18-yard box with a well-placed hand to the shoulder.
Haimoudi, meting out a form of compromise justice, motioned for a penalty kick but brought out only a yellow card for Silva. A takedown in the box normally warrants a red.
Barely two minutes had run off when Robin Van Persie rocketed in the shot from the white spot. Silva’s stay of execution was a lifeline to Brazil, who would otherwise have played a man down for the rest of match.
But Brazil declined to make hay with the favor. In the 17th minute, Blind gathered in a weak clearing header by David Luiz inside the box. With no yellow shirt in the vicinity, he had time to control the ball with two touches and blast it in with a third.
A mop-up goal by Georginio Wijnaldum provided the last indignity, unless it was Netherlands Coach Louis van Gaal’s inserting goalkeeper Michel Vorm in added time. Vorm had been the lone Dutch player yet to ply his trade at the event, and Van Gaal was delighted to clear the bench in his farewell before heading off to coach Manchester United.
“It’s frustrating,” Silva said. “We didn’t deserve to have it end like this. But unfortunately it’s football. I have to apologize to our people. The fans supported us even during the 7-1 loss and again today. They booed in the end, but it was normal. They have feelings too.”
Van Gaal, who had said he abhorred the notion of a third-place match, still sent out his primarily players, minus an injured one, at the start. But when midfielder Wesley Sneijder hurt his leg in warmups and needed replacement, the pendulum that already was leaning toward more rested Brazil swung its way further.
Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari relegated some underachievers in hopes of ramping up team enthusiasm. He also welcomed back the ace Silva, perceptibly absent from a suspension against Germany.
Brazil squandered a sizable edge with ball possession, along with frequent corners and direct free kicks from scoring range, in what was an almost certain adieu to Scolari as national team coach. Unlike Van Gaal, Scolari will depart involuntarily.
Associated Press contributed to this report.
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