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Dunga takes the fall

PORT ELIZABETH, July 3 – Brazil coach Dunga has accepted the blame for the World Cup quarter-final defeat by the Netherlands that brought his four-year reign to a bitterly disappointing end.
The man who captained the Selecao’s winning squad in 1994 has reached the end of his current contract and any hopes he may have harboured of being asked to stay on until Brazil hosts the tournament in 2014 were crushed by the Dutch, who came from behind to claim a 2-1 win on Friday.

"I was contracted for four years and we knew that from the start," Dunga said. "During the last four years I have been very happy to coach this Brazilian team and if you look at the players’ faces you would understand how they feel."

He added: "We are all responsible for this situation but I have the greatest responsibility."

Brazil appeared to be coasting towards the last four after Robinho gave them an early lead.

But the Dutch turned the match around after the interval thanks to an own goal from Juventus midfielder Felipe Melo, who was later sent off for stamping on Arjen Robben, and a Wesley Sneijder header.

"We are all extremely saddened, we did not expect this," Dunga added. "We knew it would be a delicate, difficult game. In the first half we played better than in the second but we were were not able to maintain the same rhythm.

"We could not maintain the same level of concentration. Any World Cup match is 90 minutes and it is the small details that count."

For the Dutch, Friday’s triumph amounted to revenge for their last-eight defeats at the hands of Brazil in the 1994 and 1998 tournaments.

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With a semi-final against Uruguay to come in Cape Town on Tuesday, Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk also hailed the shock defeat of Brazil as the perfect response to those who dismissed his prediction that the Oranje were capable of lifting the World Cup.

"People mocked me, but if you really want to achieve something you have to believe in it," the former Feyenoord boss said. "This is the message I tried to communicate.

"We showed that we can play fantastic football and beat a fantastic team.

"People might think I’m arrogant but we’ve beaten Brazil, we’re number three in the world, that’s a fact. We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it."

Holland were on the rack for most of the opening 45 minutes and only two superb saves by Maarten Stekelenburg prevented Kaka and Maicon from adding to Robinho’s 10th-minute strike before the interval.

Melo had offered no hint of how badly his afternoon was to end as he slid a fine pass through the heart of the Dutch defence for Robinho to run on to before placing a shot beyond Stekelenburg’s left glove.

Centreback Juan then blasted a close-range chance over the bar before Kaka and Maicon produced two of the saves of the tournament from the Dutch goalkeeper.

There seemed no way back for the Dutch at that stage. Yet within eight minutes of the restart they were level, thanks in no small part to a free-kick won by Robben’s dive close to the right touchline.

The set-piece was taken short, enabling Sneijder to work the ball into space and his cross found the net off the top of Melo’s head after the midfielder and goalkeeper Julio Cesar collided.

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The Dutch grabbed the lead after Dirk Kuyt flicked on Robben’s corner, enabling Sneijder, the smallest player on the pitch, to find space in the six-yard box to head the Dutch into the lead.

An afternoon that had started so positively for Brazil began to take on a nightmarish tinge when Melo’s frustration with Robben’s antics resulted in a stamp on the Bayern Munich winger’s thigh, leaving Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura with no option but to brandish a red card with 18 minutes left.

There was no way back for Brazil, or for Dunga.

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