They came, they saw, they kicked. And then they were caught out at setpieces, as in 1998 and 2008. Brazil are out and few real football fans will mourn. True, the Netherlands' win was not terribly pretty and their first-half performance was febrile at the very best. But they took the game to the Brazilians with admirable ambition in the second period and once they made the breakthrough they grasped the initiative. Wesley Sneijder once again underlined his credentials as a serious Ballon d'Or candidat with his wicked inswinging cross for Felipe Melo's own-goal (a misfortune you couldn't wish on a more deserving character) and his glancing header for the winner.
It wasn't a vintage Dutch performance but they played like a team that had more interest than merely cancelling out the opposition. I didn't expect the Netherlands to win but I had also said that if they got around the significant mental block of beating Brazil they could win the World Cup. There's a long way to go but they are surely as confident as they've been for three decades now. Given that the Dutch won all eight of their qualifying games and all five of their matches in South Africa so far, could this be the first time ever a team will win a World Cup with a complete grand-slam of qualifying and tournament games?