By Siobhan McCall.
Dirk Kuyt had been lavished with praise in the build up to the Netherlands’ last four tie against Uruguay, and last night the Liverpool man again showed why he’s so integral to his national team, setting up the third goal in a 3-2 victory, which sent Holland to the World Cup final. Whilst Wesley Sneijder will be many a fan’s choice for player of the tournament, it was the Liverpool winger’s contribution, which had been singled out by Bert van Marwijk. The Dutch coach called Kuyt an incredibly important player and stated how;
He always gives everyone a signal how it should be done and his impact and enthusiasm is very infectious.
And if this wasn’t enough, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Dutch legend Johann Cruyff also joined in the plaudits. Cruyff, who was part of the 1974 ’total football’ team that are still considered the greatest ever Dutch side, described Kuyt as ‘worth his weight in gold,’ whilst captain van Bronckhorst pointed to his teammate’s versatility and dedication. It’ll come as no surprise to Liverpool fans to hear their midfielder, nicknamed ’Mr Duracell’ by Rafa Benitez in reference to his work-rate, praised in this way and they will be hoping that new boss Roy Hodgson is able to get the same performances out of him. Kuyt has been a consistent performer throughout the World Cup and the winger, who has not picked up any silverware since winning the KNVB Cup with Utercht back in 2003, is now only one game away from winning the biggest prize of all.
Holland went into last night’s game in Cape Town as the only remaining team with a hundred percent record, and the extra bit of quality in their squad made the difference against a Uruguay side depleted by suspension and injuries. Van Bronckhorst opened the scoring with a beautiful goal from 35 yards out that curled into the top corner. Diego Forlan brought the match onto level terms five minutes before the end of the half , proving he couldn’t only score against African sides, but a poor decision by the referee on the stroke of half time denied Kuyt the chance to put the Oranje back in front when he was wrongly judged to be in an offside position for a diving header.
Teams often need a little bit of luck in matches as big as this and Wesley Snejider’s goal definitely had an element of good fortune to it. Debate raged throughout the rest of the match as to whether Robin Van Persie had been interfering with play but replays did show him to be onside. Nevertheless, the Inter Milan midfielder’s shot deflected off Maxi Pereria and slipped past the Uruguay goalkeeper, skimming against the post on the way in. The goal which sealed Holland’s place in the final was of much better quality and Kuyt again popped up with the crucial assist, his third in as many matches. His high cross sliced across the Uruguay defense and was met by Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben who, with a firm header, planted the ball into the back of the net. Game over, or so it appeared, until Pereria hit a stoppage time second. During injury time, in which an additional five minutes ended up being played, there was a feeling that last minute luck might be about to strike again for the South Americans but it wasn’t to be and Holland ensured it would be an all-European final and their first in the World Cup for 32 years.
Kuyt had a top game, working tirelessly for the team. A number of his balls into the box caused problems for the Uruguay backline and it will be great to see what he can do in the final. His last game at this stage, the 2007 Champions League final in Athens, was a poor performance from Liverpool as a whole and none of the players shone, so he will be looking to make amends for that. And with players of the calibre of Robben and Sneijder ready to meet his deadly balls you wouldn’t bet against him claiming another important assist. The Dutchman strongly believes in his side‘s chances in the final , declaring that the Dutch have to win it and he went on to say;
What has happened is unbelievable. It is a bit unreal.We felt before the tournament we had the quality in the team to win it but now it is an incredible feeling.
Holland will be keeping a keen eye on tonight’s tie between Germany and Spain (kick-off 7.30pm) to discover their opponents and Dirk could find himself up against teammate Fernando Torres should Spain be victorious. I’m sure Liverpool fans all around will agree with me in wishing Dirk all the best for the final and let’s hope he can continue this form into next season!
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