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Sneijder Dutch hero, Melo Brazilian villain

Sports Desk |
Update: 2010-07-02 02:21:01

JOHANNESBURG: Wesley Sneijder was the hero and Felipe Melo the villain as Netherlands came from behind to edge favoured Brazil 2-1 Friday after a World Cup quarter-final thriller.

Sneijder, from European club champions Inter Milan, delivered the cross that Melo headed into his own net on 53 minutes and the midfielder was given time and space in a packed goalmouth to head the winner a quarter of an hour later.

Juventus midfielder Melo, whose long pass down the centre of the Port Elizabeth pitch allowed Robinho to give Brazil an early lead, was sent off after his team fell behind for stamping on Arjen Robben.

Brazil forced a series of late corners but could not grab the goal that would have taken the first last-eight clash of the weekend to extra time and Netherlands will face Uruguay or Ghana next Tuesday in Cape Town.

Success for the Dutch was particularly sweet as they came off second best against Brazil twice in the knockout phase of the World Cup, losing a 1994 quarter-final 3-2 and a semi-final on penalties four years later.

The Dutch generally arrive at World Cup and Euro tournaments among the title favourites and flatter only to deceive with just a 1988 Euro title to show for generations of outstanding footballers.

While the World Cup class of 2010 is certainly not short of class with stars such as Sneijder, Robben and Robin van Persie, they possess a steely edge lacking in past tournaments.

Netherlands will be fancied to make the July 11 Johannesburg final by beating Ghana or Uruguay, who square off later before a sell-out 90,000 crowd at Soccer City near the South African financial capital.

Ghana face the South Americans hoping to go one step further than Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal eight years ago and become the first African nation to reach the semi-finals.

Leading scorer Asamoah Gyan said he feels an acute sense of football history beckoning for Ghana, who have become the leading team on the continent under Serb coach Milovan Rajevac.

"This is a big opportunity for us. This World Cup is in Africa. No other African will be supporting any team but us. I don`t predict the outcome of games, but we will work hard and come out victorious," said Gyan.

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has Uruguay on the cusp of returning to the big time after once dominating football, winning the first World Cup in 1930 and another 20 years later in Brazil.

"If we win the only sides that will have done more than us are the great world champions. I think we are very much even with other nations and if we win it will guarantee us fourth place."

Football governing body FIFA has given Nigeria two days to reverse a decision to ban the national team from international matches for two years following a poor World Cup showing.

His comments came after Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan banned his country from competing internationally following a disappointing first round exit after losses to Argentina and Greece and a draw with South Korea.

Huh Jung-Moo has quit as South Korea coach, citing distress from scathing attacks during the tournament in which his team reached the last-16 stage before losing narrowly to Uruguay.

"My family suffered a lot ... I want to have time to recharge myself and spend some time with my family," said Huh, whose 30-month coaching contract expires at the end of the tournament.

It was the best performance by the Taeguk Warriors at a World Cup held outside the Asian country, where they reached the 2002 semi-finals as co-hosts before bowing to Germany.

BDST: 2239hrs, July 2, 2010

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