Pushed to limit, Brazil ousts Dutch Shootout win earns berth in Cup final

July 08, 1998|By BOSTON GLOBE

MARSEILLE, France -- Maybe they should have just gone on until dawn. There was a full moon in a clear sky and a cool breeze off the Mediterranean and nobody had anything scheduled until the weekend. Why did the best match of the World Cup have to come down to penalty kicks? And why, the Dutch moaned, did they have to be the ones standing around numbly at the end?

"This was God helping me," said keeper Taffarel after he'd blocked two shots to thwart the Netherlands, 4-2, in a shootout after the teams had played to a 1-1 tie, putting his team into Sunday's final for the second straight time with a chance to win its fifth Cup.

Four years ago, the Brazilians defeated Italy for the Cup on penalty kicks when Roberto Baggio's attempt sailed over the bar in the Rose Bowl.

Yesterday at the Stade Velodrome, they escaped when Taffarel knocked aside the last two shots, by Phillip Cocu and Ron de Boer.

"It should go in," said de Boer after he'd watched Taffarel come up exulting and pointing his index fingers to the heavens. "It's a very dreadful feeling. We could have won."

The Dutch had also gone out to the Brazilians last time, 3-2 in the quarterfinals, after coming from two goals down to tie. But this time, it hurt much worse. This time, the Dutch were one step closer to winning the prize that had eluded their Clockwork Orange teams in 1974 and 1978.

This time, the Dutch had tied the match in the 87th minute on a Patrick Kluivert header and had twice kept Ronaldo from beating them in overtime, only to see it come to nothing.

L "After we tied it, I truly believed we'd win," said de Boer.

The Brazilians, who will meet today's France-Croatia victor in the final, dodged a bullet yesterday. The Dutch had them backed into their half for a good part of the game, constantly attacking. And yet, because of one moment of brilliance from the 21-year-old Ronaldo, the Brazilians thought they had it won before overtime.

The Dutch had often tied them in knots in the first half, closing down the midfield, tripping up Ronaldo whenever he came near the ball and nearly scoring themselves on shots by Dennis Bergkamp and Kluivert.

Then, half a minute into the second half, Ronaldo had Brazil on the board. Taking a perfect through ball from Rivaldo, he dashed into the area as Cocu desperately tried to keep pace, and put the ball past keeper Edwin van der Sar for his fourth goal.

It was the first time the Dutch had been behind in the tournament and they came back with a fierce resolve.

In the 53rd minute, Kluivert headed a corner to Wim Jonk, whose point-blank shot Taffarel barely managed to block. In the 65th, Kluivert just missed another header off a corner.

In came Denilson for Bebeto, and Brazil came back to life. Rivaldo sent in Ronaldo again, five yards in the clear this time, but Edgar Davids and van der Sar combined to thwart him.

Then Denilson crossed nicely to Rivaldo, who was sitting on the turf, but managed to poke a shot at van der Sar.

So it went, with the Brazilians eager to put the Dutch away and the Dutch, who had won their last two matches in the final minute, confident they could find a way to stay alive.

Even though Kluivert had been misfiring, his teammates kept looking for him. Finally, de Boer, alone on the right side, sent over a high cross and Kluivert, leaping above three yellow jerseys, knocked it in.

So it came to overtime, with Ronaldo trying to win it by himself. He nearly did, twice in a minute, on a bicycle kick that Frank de Boer headed away with van der Sar out and a blast that the goalkeeper knocked away.

Ah, for another 30 minutes of this. But referee Ali Mohamed Bujsaim called for a shootout -- the third of the tournament -- and now everybody was in the circle, the Brazilians kneeling, the Dutch standing with their arms around one another.

The Brazilians, who've now been in shootouts in three of the last four Cups, calmly put home four shots -- first Ronaldo, then Rivaldo, then Emerson, then Dunga.

Frank de Boer and Dennis Bergkamp cashed theirs for the Dutch, but Taffarel dove left to deny Cocu. Then came de Boer, stutter-stepping to throw Taffarel off, then watching in shock as the keeper dove right and knocked the ball away.

For a long while, the Dutch stood on the field, hands on hips, reluctant to leave. It had been 20 years since they'd been this close. "The dream is over," said Ron de Boer. "It's a pity."

For the Brazilians, the only non-European team to win the Cup in Europe -- in 1958 -- the party continues.

"In Brazil, people are already celebrating," said coach Mario Zagallo.

Brazil .....0 1 -- 1

Netherlands 0 1 -- 1

First half--None.

Second half--1, Brazil, Ronaldo 4, 46th minute; 2, Netherlands, Kluivert 2, 87th.

First overtime--None.

Second overtime--None.

Penalty Kicks--Brazil 4 (Ronaldo G; Rivaldo G; Emerson G; Dunga G); Netherlands 2 (De Boer, Frank, G; Bergkamp G; Cocu NG; De Boer, Ronald NG).

Yellow Cards--Brazil 2, Carlos, Ze, 31st; Sampaio 46th (first half). Netherlands 4, Reiziger 48th (second half); Davids 60th; Van Hooijdonk 92nd; Seedorf 118th. Shots at Goal--Brazil 18, Netherlands 18. Shots on Goal--Brazil 10, Netherlands 6. Offsides--Brazil 5, Netherlands 5. Fouls--Brazil 10, Netherlands 24.

Pub Date: 7/08/98

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