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Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts

THE party is over for Brazil but a couple of the guests are refusing to leave.

Daley Blind scores the Netherlands' second goal
Daley Blind scores the Netherlands' second goal

Argentina and Germany remain in the country to contest the World Cup final this evening, with the Netherlands obliged to depart last night after triumphing in the third-place play-off match. The hosts lost that one too, their dignity having been taken from them earlier in the week.

Brazil had intended to be in the Maracana to play in the final. Instead they have been sidelined as a consequence of inefficient play and an unreliable squad, those lofty ambitions of winning a sixth World Cup having been killed off during the semi-finals. The hosts were laid to rest in Brasilia last night.

There was no resurrection in the capital; instead a country will be invited to mourn a painful loss as a national football federation begins their post mortem.

The squad may say some goodbyes too and the most earnest will likely be reserved for Luiz Felipe Scolari. Few will be able to recall in a few years that his Brazil side finished fourth in their own World Cup but there is one result which will not fade: 7-1. The scoreline looks stark when printed in black and white, while it has left a nation black and blue - Scolari among them. Brazil will recover in time, but their current head coach cannot expect to survive in his post beyond these finals. He was due to meet his bosses late last night to discuss his position.

The 65-year-old would have appeared more vulnerable now his players are to be restored to their clubs for the new season, although he does not stand alone in the dock. His preparation and tactics will be dismissed as insufficient - the Netherlands were largely untroubled last night - but he has been let down by his team too. These are players which pulled on a famous national shirt referred to affectionately as canary yellow, only the canaries began to look a little peaky this summer. Some appeared to have expired completely, at least in the case of the lifeless Jo and inanimate Fred.

Brazil must now mine in search of improvement. The loss of Neymar to injury late on in the quarter-finals and the suspension issued against Thiago Silva for the semi-final affected them badly and showed that the squad can be toppled when those two towering talents are not around to hold up the rest.

It is worth adding that reminder of Silva's reputation, since his return to the starting XI last night coincided with calamity. The match was just two minutes old when the Brazilian captain was caught out by a pass in behind for Arjen Robben, a sense of panic resulting in a tug on the arm of the Dutch winger, and a penalty, dispatched by Robin van Persie.

Silva seemed fortunate to avoid a red card - Robben was preparing to pull the trigger when he was yanked at from behind - although a second goal seemed to act as retrospective punishment. That arrived after just 16 minutes when Daley Blind was afforded enough space to clip the ball into the top corner.

It was an uplifting moment for the midfielder given that his father, former Ajax defender Danny, was seated on the bench to witness it. Blind would embrace his old man in celebration as his team-mates seized hold of third place.

They seldom looked like letting go, indeed van Persie, Robben and Dirk Kuyt each went close to scoring before Georginio Wijnaldum added a third with a low, assured finish as they match rumbled into injury time. The Dutch had proven themselves capable of harnessing the hosts in their own capital and while winning third place is but little reward at a World Cup, it felt cathartic to the Dutch last night.

A place in the final was lost to Argentina on penalties but a win in Brasilia has allowed to go out on something of a high. Coach Louis van Gaal would likely be satisfied given that his next stop after leaving South America is Manchester, and then to the United States as part of United's tour. The head coach is with a new party now. He will hope to enjoy it more than Brazil did their own.

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