Dutch coach Louis van Gaal didn't even want his team to play in the third-place game at the World Cup. By the time that divisive contest was over, Brazil probably would have preferred if the Netherlands hadn't played either.
The Netherlands claimed third place at the 2014 World Cup with a 3-0 victory over Brazil at Nacional in Brasilia on Saturday. The Dutch, who were runners-up in 2010, jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first half and added a third goal in second-half stoppage time. Ranked No. 15 in the FIFA rankings released before the start of the World Cup, the Netherlands notched victories over Spain, Australia, Chile, Mexico and Costa Rica before losing to Argentina in a penalty shootout in the semifinals. Despite Van Gaal's public criticism of the third-place match, his team ended its trip to Brazil on a high note with a decisive win over the hosts.
"Today's match I think for us was the best way to end this tournament," Netherlands forward Arjen Robben said after the win, via The Telegraph. "We also fully deserved this third place the way we played. Nobody expected us to be in the last four."
With Brazil playing without injured star Neymar and reeling from a 7-1 thrashing in the semifinals by Germany, the Netherlands took control of the third-place match early, scoring two goals in the first 16 minutes. Striker Robin Van Persie converted a penalty kick for the opening score after Brazil defender Thiago Silva took pulled down Robben.
The lead was doubled in the 16th minute when a ball headed by Brazil defender fell for the Netherlands' Daley Blind in the penalty area.
Brazil managed to reach halftime without surrendering any more goals but could not hold the Netherlands scoreless the rest of the way. In the first minute of second-half stoppage time, midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum added the final goal for the Dutch.
"It's a terrible feeling, I don't know what to say," Brazil's Oscar said after the defeat, via The Associated Press. "After a huge loss to Germany, today we tried our best from the beginning to win third place but it wasn't our day. We have to see what went wrong so we can improve for the future."