Dutch savor orange-tinged rub of the green at last

Reuters

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Dutch savor orange-tinged rub of the green at last
For a nation whose World Cup history is filled with hard-luck stories, the Netherlands will be feeling the tide has finally turned after they snatched a fortuitous victory over Mexico on Sunday to advance to the quarter-finals.
The Dutch have a rich history of success being ripped from their grasp but good fortune shone as brightly on them as the Fortaleza sun, bringing an equalizer two minutes from time and then getting a stoppage-time penalty that sealed a 2-1 triumph.
They, more than most, will be able to sympathize with the plight of the vanquished Mexicans after three times finishing World Cup runners-up and ending up on the wrong side of two other memorable match-ups.
All three of their final defeats have been narrow. The Dutch scored first with an penalty against hosts West Germany in 1974 but lost 2-1 and were beaten 3-1 after extra time by home side Argentina in the deciding game four years later.
But they were the width of the woodwork away from glory with the scores level at 1-1 in the last minutes of injury time when Rob Rensenbrink hit the upright in Buenos Aires.
Four years ago in Johannesburg, as the Dutch hoped it would be a case of ‘third time lucky’ in the final, Arjen Robben was away on goal with just the Spanish goalkeeper to beat but his shot was turned wide by Iker Casillas’s outstretched leg.
Spain went on to win 1-0 in extra time.
In 1994 the Dutch and Brazil went toe to toe in a classic quarter-final with Brazil 2-0 before the Netherlands clawed their way back, only to be beaten by a controversial free kick in the closing stages hit home by Branco.
Brazil eliminated them again four years on in France as heart-break returned at the semi-final stage and they lost on penalties.
In Germany in 2006 all their World Cup ghosts came back to haunt the Dutch in an infamous last-16 battle with Portugal in the in which nine-man Netherlands lost by a lone goal.
Sunday's result in Fortaleza, the Dutch will be hoping, could mark a turning-point when the rub of the green now has a distinct orange tinge.

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