Soccer purists may disagree, but I thought this was the best match of the Cup so far. Sure, the ref handed out a record-tying 16 yellow cards and tossed players right and left. Sure, in the second half teams held one scrum after another which had to be broken up by the referee and his assistants. Sure, the game bore no resemblance to FIFA idiotic “My game is fair play” slogan. I loved it.

Finally we saw two talented teams who really wanted to win, who really disliked one another, who really thought that this might be their year go at it. Netherlands had better chances, I thought, particularly in the second half. Despite having a man advantage for long stretches throughout the game, Netherlands was never able to capitalize, and Maniche’s 23rd minute drive into the top right corner for a 1-0 lead was never equaled.