Croatia have beaten the Netherlands to claim their second Third-Place finish at a FIFA World Cup, with a 2-0 win in Brasilía. Two goals before the break proved the difference in a fiery encounter that saw four players from each side booked.
The run of a European nation winning the Playoff extends now to nine tournaments, with only Brazil in 1978 preventing a run of thirteen dating back to Chile in 1962 on their home soil.
The Netherlands suffered a blow inside the opening ten minutes when Robin van Persie was stretchered off after an innocuous aerial challenge that saw him land very heavily. News is that he’ll miss the start of the season with a hip injury.
Shortly before the half-hour mark, Ivan Perisic went down in the box under a tackle by Gregory Van der Wiel, but his convincing argument was waved away by the Italian referee. Seven minutes later though, he did point to the spot.
Ivica Olić was grappled to the ground by Erik Pieters, giving Croatia the chance to go in front with the 15th penalty awarded in the tournament so far. Luka Modric duly obliged, sending the Dutch ‘keeper the wrong way, for his 10th international goal.
With half-time approaching, Vedran Corluka hooked a ball over the top of the high Dutch back line that Eduardo brought down with one touch, rounded Steklenberg and slotted home to double the lead.
The Netherlands never really came close to troubling Blazevic, only forcing him to make one save, though Klaas-Jan Huntelaar came closest when he beat the offside trap with ten minutes to go and hit the post.
All eyes move to Rio de Janeiro for tomorrow’s Final, Brazil v. Italy.
FIFA WORLD CUP BRAZIL 2014 MATCH 63: THIRD-PLACE PLAY-OFF NETHERLANDS 0-2 CROATIA Modric 34 (pen) Eduardo 42 Brasilía
DORTMUND PLAYER WATCH: Perisic (CRO) 90': 21/23 passing, 0/3 crossing, 6/8 tackling 2/4 headers, 6 intercepts, 1 shot. Rating: 7.1