Holland came from one goal down to do the impossible. They beat the world champions, Brazil, 2-1, in an unbelievable exhibition of stoicism and strength. The Dutch are a thoughtful, friendly, patient people. They know how to wait quietly and endure under occupation, until their moment of liberation comes.
Brazil scored first, and by half time, it looked like an inevitable Brazilian victory. Holland seemed to have little left to give and all the commentators seemed to think it was in the bag for Brazil. When Holland came back onto the pitch, a couple of Dutch jaws were thrusting forward in a rather determined manner. With a Dutch mother, who raised me on Edam, Gouda, and thickly applied Lurpak butter, it’s a look I know well. After 10 minutes, unbelievably, the Dutch had scored the equalizer, from a fine pass by Wesley Sneijder.
Brazil went all out for another quick goal, but their invention was dashed against the rock of Dutch intractability. Frustrated, the Latin temperament of the Brazilians seemed to explode. They lost their shape, their discipline and their composure. When Sneijder scored again from a corner, with a header, making it 2-1 to Holland, Brazil went into overdrive, so much so that one of their players was sent off, for tripping Arjen Robben, and then viciously stamping on him. Brazil were down to 10 men by the 74th minute.
Brazil gave it everything, but the Dutch hung on until the end. History has shown us how stubborn Dutch patience can endure, and so it was today. Holland have now played 24 games without a defeat. If Holland beat the Germans, for me, that will make up for everything. They next meet the winner of Ghana and Uraguay. Holland to win the World Cup, Hup Holland Hup!
A choice of great videos showing all the highlights of this fantastic game can be found here.