The Dutch team will play in the World Cup final for the third time in history. They defeated Uruguay 3-2 in Cape Town on Tuesday. Ajax’s Stekelenburg and De Zeeuw were in action. The Netherlands will play either Germany or Spain in Sunday’s final.
The Netherlands’ winning streak seems endless after yet another victory in South Africa, as Bert van Marwijk’s team won its sixth match. But it was nail biting until the very end.
On paper, there was a strong Ajax flavour to the Uruguay – Netherlands match. However, with two players affected by suspensions (Gregory van der Wiel and Luis Suarez), and one plagued by injury (Nicolas Lodeiro), only two of the five Ajax players saw any action. Maarten Stekelenburg and Demy de Zeeuw, replacing the suspended Nigel de Jong, made up the Ajax contingent on the Orange team. De Zeeuw’s spot on the squad was a nice bonus, as he’d only seen a few minutes of action in the tournament this far, back in the opening match against Denmark. But it was short lived. He received a kick to his jaw from Uruguay midfielder Martin Caceres during the first half, and had to be replaced midway through by former Ajax player Rafael van der Vaart.
After a strong start, the Dutch team went up in the 18th minute. With a surprising shot from 25 meters out, captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst put his team in the lead, 1-0. After the Dutch squandered opportunities to expand their lead, Uruguay started taking more initiatives, earning them a goal shortly before the break which looked almost identical to van Bronckhorst’s. This time, it was Diego Forlan who beat Maarten Stekelenburg from the same distance. The Ajax keeper, who has reliably protected his team from many goals in previous matches, had no answer this time.
But midway through the second half, the Dutch team took over. Within three minutes, Wesley Sneijder (70th minute) and Arjen Robben (73rd minute) padded their lead, 3-1. Uruguay made it 3-2 during extra time, but after that, there were no more surprises for the Netherlands, who earned their spot in the final for the third time in history.
The Netherlands will meet the winner of the Germany-Spain semi final on Sunday in Johannesburg. Uruguay, with Suarez’s full availability, will play for third place against Germany-Spain’s losing team.