Mercifully, the 2014 World Cup is over for shellshocked Brazil, another defensive collapse allowing the Netherlands to claim third place 24-hours before Germany take on Argentina at Maracana.
It took only two minutes for the Dutch to punish the host side, which conceded a "touchdown" to Germany in the semifinal without captain Thiago Silva but failed to perform even with him in the lineup. With Arjen Robben in behind and isolated one-v-one, Silva resorted to a grab on the edge of the box, judged by referee Djamel Haimoudi to be a penalty and controversial yellow yard. Replays showed the foul occurred outside the box, meriting what would have been a calamitous red card, but no spot kick.
A second goal followed 14 minutes later, when Daley Blind collected a David Luiz clearance in the 18, controlled and blasted past Julio Cesar for his first-ever World Cup goal. They poured it on in extratime, as Georginio Wijnaldum provided the capper that brought Brazil's two-game aggregate to 10-1 in the negative, an embarrassing end to a World Cup that once held so much promise.
Argentina will meet Germany in the final on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro in what will be a rematch of the 1986 and 1990 World Cup Finals. Argentina took the title home in '86, with the Germans getting their revenge four years later.
NEYMAR IN THE HOUSE:
One Brazilian talisman (Silva) was back in the lineup, while Neymar – ruled out before the semifinal with a broken back following a knee to the back against Colombia – was on the bench to support his teammates in Brasilia. While the nation's best hope for joga bonito smiles down from billboards across Brazil, Neymar watched a second straight loss from the sidelines.
LATE LOSS FOR DUTCH:
Injuries aren't exclusive to Brazil, and the Netherlands saw string-puller and listed starter Wesley Sneijder go down during warmups via a reported hamstring injury. CONCACAF nerds got a little treat, though, when former Canadian international and MLS Designated Player Julian De Guzman's brother, Jonathan, got the start in Sneijer's stead.
BRAZIL WILTS AGAIN:
For 20 minutes, the hosts were on pace for an even bigger embarrassment than the 7-1 Germany hung on Brazil in the semifinals. In the end, it was only 3-0 – Robin van Persie via PK, Daney Blind via half volley and Georginio Wijnaldum via extratime providing the goals – as the Netherlands piled on in a disastrous ending to the Selecao's tournament. They allowed more goals than ever before in the World Cup, forcing serious introspection in a country that expected glory.
Brasil have never let in more than 11 goals in a World Cup. Conceding 11 in 1938 & 2014 could they break another unwanted record this year?— Campo (@CampoRetro) July 12, 2014
Brazil has conceded multiple goals in consecutive World Cup games for the first time since 1970. #BRA— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) July 12, 2014
Brasil ya es el anfitrión con más goles en contra (13) en TODA la historia de la Copa Mundial (supera los 11 en contra de Suiza en 1954)— MisterChip (Alexis) (@2010MisterChip) July 12, 2014
Joga Bonito. Born: 1958. Died: 2014.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) July 12, 2014
IN OR OUT? OFF OR ON? PK CONTROVERSY:
There was certainly some luck involved with the Dutch goals despite Brazil's capitulation. Most controversially, Arjen Robben was judged to have been pulled down inside the box just two minutes into the match (you be the judge below), and Thiago Silva was somehow spared of a red card. Meanwhile, Blind's goal appeared to result from a possible offside play.
If this had been the final or a game that really mattered, not giving a red would have been scandalous— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) July 12, 2014
DIVING FINALLY PUNISHED...BUT DID REF GET IT ALL WRONG?:
More referee controversy as Oscar saw yellow for a dive in the 60th minute, the first such caution of the tournament. But was it a flop? Seems the Dutch got fortunate again.
THIS ABOUT SUMS IT UP FOR BRAZIL: Not much more to say that the picture doesn't. On the biggest stage and with monstrous expectations, a deam that had already perished endured yet more misery on Saturday afternoon.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Arjen Robben, forward, the Netherlands. Consistently excellent, if not maligned for some aspects of his game. Should have completely changed the game two minutes in, but still the dominant force in a match many didn't want to see played.