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Grading the Dutch's big win

July 6, 2010
Schaerlaeckens By Leander Schaerlaeckens

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Uruguay put up a tenacious battle right to the end, but it wasn't enough to defeat the Netherlands. The Dutch snapped a long string of World Cup misadventures at last and will return to the final for the first time since 1978.

Wesley Sneijder, Netherlands: A-

The playmaker finally had that all-important game in which he was able to dictate play. While his space was heavily crowded by Uruguay, Sneijder managed to find the room to build effective attacks. He also hit the go-ahead 2-1 goal, though to be fair, Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera should have done better.

Diego Forlan, Uruguay: A

Whatever ultimately caused Uruguay to come up short today -- a lack of quality, a lack of luck, a lack of players such as Luis Suarez -- Forlan shouldn't be part of that conversation. The forward had a superb tournament and was a major reason Uruguay got as far as it did, not only through his lovely goals from distance -- including one today -- but as a result of his many excellent free kicks and corners.

Arjen Robben, Netherlands: A-

While the Dutch coach had said before the game that he was satisfied to have reached the semifinals, Robben clearly wasn't. He did have something to prove, as we'd seen very little of him in the tournament. Today he was front and center, especially in the second half. After the Dutch went ahead, he found the space he needed to operate in and finally got to run at goal. It yielded a nice header to make it 3-1.

Martin Caceres, Uruguay: C

This was the Uruguayan defender's first game in the tournament and it showed. He was shaky and frequently offered Robben or Dirk Kuyt, who alternated on the wings, chances to zip by him.

Mark Van Bommel, Netherlands: A-

The holding midfielder was strong in the absence of his partner in crime, Nigel de Jong, who served a suspension, and de Jong's replacement, Demy de Zeeuw, who was taken off at halftime in favor of another attacking midfielder. Largely unheralded as usual, Van Bommel had a peerless work rate.

Edinson Cavani, Uruguay: B-

While the Uruguayan striker was at times dangerous, he failed to deliver what Uruguay needed: a capable replacement for the suspended Suarez. He simply didn't do enough with the few chances that came his way.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer writer for He can be reached at