The Netherlands won their first ever bronze medal at a World Cup on Saturday, beating hosts Brazil 3-0 in comfortable fashion. Robin van Persie and Daley Blind scored twice early in the first half, and the Selecao never truly threatened the lead.
Georginio Wijnaldum added a third goal late in the second half, but at that point, the Brazilians had already given up.
Thiago Silva fouled Arjen Robben inside (or just outside) the box within three minutes of the opening whistle, and Van Persie clinically converted the spot-kick.
LiveFootball had the Vine:
As shared by the BBC, the goal was the 100th the Brazilian team ever conceded at a World Cup:
Van Persie had never scored a goal in the knockout stages of a major tournament, according to ESPN FC, so the personal landmark was a welcome one:
That was #NED Robin van Persie's first goal in the knockout rounds of a World Cup.— Dale Johnson (@dalejohnsonESPN) July 12, 2014
The Dutch truly dominated the first half and doubled their lead through Blind, who took advantage of some dreadful defending from the much-maligned David Luiz. When the first 45 minutes were over, Van Persie had out-shot the Brazilian team by himself, per OptaJohan:
Van Persie disappeared during the second half, often wandering offsides and contributing very little to the team's offensive output. In contrast, Robben was a constant nuisance for the Brazilian defence, using his great pace to present a real threat on every single ball that went over the top of the back four.
He also made history on the night, by winning his second penalty of the tournament, as shared by OptaJose:
3 - Arjen Robben is the 3rd #NED player to win two penalties in a single World Cup (J. Rep in 1978 & J. Cruyff in 1974). Unstoppable.— OptaJose (@OptaJose) July 12, 2014
The winger-turned-striker was very active during the first half and was able to make his mark on this match, unlike his previous outing against Argentina. Via OptaJohan, he led his team in touches:
The Los Angeles Times' Hector Becerra loved what he brought to the team:
Every team needs an Arjen Robben. Yes, he dives and looks like an orc--but he's a phenomenal player with an endless motor. #BRAvsNED— Hector Becerra (@hbecerraLATimes) July 12, 2014
Sports Illustrated's Liviu Bird even took it a step further, claiming he would vote for Robben as the tournament's best player:
Brazilian football expert Selecao Brasileira echoed the same sentiment:
Unless someone does something extraordinary in the final tomorrow, Robben should definitely be voted the best player in World Cup, to me.— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStats) July 12, 2014
Known for his tendency to go down easily, Robben again performed several dives against the Brazilians on Saturday. When Oscar became the first player of the tournament to be booked for simulating for what appeared to be a clear foul from Blind, it didn't take long for the puns to start.
Bleacher Report's Dan Levy had perhaps the best one:
Robben will be unavailable for the rest of the match for DYING WITH LAUGHTER.— Dan Levy (@DanLevyThinks) July 12, 2014
The Netherlands will travel back home without losing a single match during regulation, and given the squad's general lack of experience, the 2014 World Cup has to be considered a major success for them.
Players like Robben, Van Persie and Wesley Sneijder may have played in their final World Cup in 2014, and at least they will now have a chance to leave the stage on a high note.
Brazil have some serious questions to answer, and Felipe Scolari's time as manager of the team appears to be over. Embarrassed on home soil in back-to-back matches, the 2014 World Cup was truly a low point in Brazilian football history.