Saturday, July 3, 2010

3 July 1974 - The Dutch Out-Brazil Brazil

On 3 July 1974, the Netherlands secured their spot in the World Cup Final by beating defending champions Brazil 2-0 in the second round.

The Netherlands and Brazil were the last to meet in their second-round group, both having already beaten fellow group members Argentina and East Germany, meaning that the winner would reach the Final. The Dutch were led by captain and reigning European Footballer of the Year, Johan Cruyff. Ostensibly a center forward, Cruyff had the freedom to roam the pitch in the Oranje's Total Football system, which abandoned positional rigidity for a free-flowing dynamic style. Brazil, meanwhile, relied on veteran midfielder Jairzinho, who had scored seven goals in the previous World Cup, second only to West Germany's Gerd Müller.

As befitting their shared attacking style, the two sides exchanged close chances in an attacking first half, but neither team was able to find the back of the net. That changed shortly after the break, as Dutch midfielder Johan Neeskens stormed into the box to latch onto the end of a Cruyff cross and chip it over the Brazilian keeper in the 50th minute. Cruyff doubled the lead fifteen minutes later with a leaping right-foot volley.

Brazil's efforts to mount a comeback were undone by the 84th-minute ejection of defender Luis Pereira for an uncharacteristically clumsy tackle.

The Netherlands advanced to the Final, where they lost 2-1 to West Germany.

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