CAPE TOWN, South Africa ( TheStreet) -- The Netherlands defeated Uruguay, 3-2, on Tuesday in a scintillating match to advance to their first World Cup final since 1978.
The Dutch will play the winner of the Germany-Spain semifinal on Wednesday, with the championship set for Sunday at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.
It will be the second all-European final in a row (Italy beat France in 2006), as South America's teams, which started out strongly, faltered late in the tournament; favorite Brazil bowed to Netherlands in the quarterfinals.
The Dutch have never won a World Cup, but have reached the final game two previous times. The
are considered the best side not to have hoisted the trophy.
The Netherlands took a 1-0 lead at the 18th minute on a brilliant strike by Giovanni Van Bronckhorst. Resilient Uruguay answered with a strike of its own by the prolific Diego Forlan to tie the score at 1-1 in the 41st minute. There was no quit in Uruguay, which was without one of its top scorers, Luis Suarez, who
served out a red card
he got for a game-saving handball vs. Ghana in the quarterfinals.
|Netherlands' Arjen Robben, left, heads the ball and scores his side's third goal during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Uruguay and the Netherlands at the Green Point Stadium.
The Dutch ostensibly sealed the victory when Wesley Sneijder scored off a deflection in the 70th minute, followed by a deft header for goal by Arjen Robben in the 73rd.
Uruguay, which has won the World Cup twice, made the Dutch sweat when Maxi Pereira scored in extra time to make it 3-2. Maarten Stekelenburg's save off a blistering Uruguay shot helped the Dutch avert overtime.
Written by William Hennelly in New York