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Friday, July 2, 2010
Sneijder eyes glory after shock win

Soccernet staff

Wesley Sneijder believes Netherlands possess a "unique chance" of reaching the World Cup final after coming from a goal down to shock Brazil on Friday afternoon.

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Robinho's early goal put Brazil in firm control of the quarter-final in Port Elizabeth but Sneijder inspired a much-improved second-half performance from the Dutch. It was his cross that Felipe Melo headed past his own 'keeper and his header that flew past Julio Cesar to secure a 2-1 win.

Netherlands will now play unfancied Uruguay or Ghana in the semi-finals and while Bert van Marwijk's side seemed to be heading towards defeat at half-time, Sneijder feels they now have real hope of emulating the Dutch sides of 1974 and 1978 by reaching the final.

"It seemed pretty much impossible to progress at half-time. However, we told each other during the break that we had to give it our all and that we could still make it to the semi-final," Sneijder told NOS.

"We started the second half with attacking intentions and were rewarded with a quick equaliser. I got all the time and space I needed for our second goal and I didn't hesitate to head the ball home from inside the area.

"This is simply a fantastic feeling. We've beaten Brazil 2-1 to progress to the semi-finals. This is a unique chance for us to go all the way. We never stopped fighting and we deserved the win after 90 minutes."

Sneijder said of his goal: "It was my first headed goal - and I don't think it will happen again. Chances are it won't. But it was great. It just slipped off my bald head and went into the net. It was a great feeling."

Netherlands won all three of their games in Group E but only defeated Slovakia 2-1 in the second round and have not been considered amongst the leading contenders to win the tournament.

But after defeating a Brazil side that were perceived to be members of that elite group, Van Marwijk says he is ever more convinced that he can lead Netherlands to their first ever World Cup victory.

"I already said it before the start of this World Cup and I will repeat it now: We are here to win the tournament," Van Marwijk said. "People were laughing about this a couple of weeks ago, but I'm still confident that we can go all the way.

"We somehow failed to play our own game before the break. We slowly improved after about 25 minutes of play, but we had every reason to be satisfied that we were trailing by only one goal at half-time.

"We showed what we're capable of in the second half. We could have made four or five goals after the interval. Gregory van der Wiel is just one of the players who struggled in the first 45 minutes, but showed much more initiative in the second part of the match."




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