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Sneijder uses his head to help Holland

03/07/2010 06:40:22 AM Comments (0)

Wesley Sneijder ran away smacking his forehead in joy and amazement after scoring the winner against Brazil, hardly believing what had just happened.

The smallest man on the pitch used perhaps the least potent of his many weapons - his head - to give the Dutch a 2-1 over five-time champion Brazil in the World Cup quarter-finals on Friday.

Surrounded by tall Brazil defenders, the diminutive Sneijder was somehow left unmarked to nod in from close range after Dirk Kuyt had flicked on an Arjen Robben corner.

The Inter Milan playmaker is best known for his curling free kicks and pinpoint accurate passes, and said it was just his second ever headed goal.

"I got one once for Ajax against Ado The Hague," he said. "I guess this is what you have a head for."

Moments earlier it was the 26-year-old Sneijder's curling cross that Brazil defender Felipe Melo headed into his own net.

Match officials credited it to the Brazilian who was later sent off to compound his misery, but Sneijder said he should have been awarded the goal.

"If it goes in via the goalkeeper it is given to the shooter. This one just skimmed his head and went in," Sneijder said after being named man of the match. "It's not important though. The important thing is that we won."

The headed goal, Sneijder's third score of the tournament, appeared to shock Sneijder's teammates as much as it did him.

"The little bloke scored with a header," defender Andre Ooijer said with a grin. "It just goes to show anything can happen in football."

After the match, John Heitinga picked up Sneijder and slung him over his shoulder as Netherlands captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst, a Brazil shirt in hand, leapt and rubbed Sneijder's closely shaved head.

Sneijder's career has turned around spectacularly this season after he was discarded by Real Madrid amid the Spanish powerhouse's spending spree last year.

He moved to Inter Milan and coach Jose Mourinho, recognising how Sneijder could turn matches with a single pass, gave him the freedom of Inter's midfield. Sneijder revelled in the responsibility and repaid Mourinho's trust with a career defining season.

Sneijder capped it all with an inch-perfect pass for Diego Milito to score the first of his two goals in Inter's 2-0 defeat of Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. That victory was extra sweet as it came at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

The Champions League victory came after Inter had already wrapped up the league and cup double in Italy.

"It has been a great season," Sneijder said. "But I'm only going to cheer after the next two matches."

Sneijder had said going into Friday's match that he didn't feel he had shown his best form as the Netherlands sometimes laboured to four straight victories at the World Cup.

But Brazil wasn't surprised by his performance in the quarterfinal.

"We knew he was a great player," said Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar, Sneijder's teammate at Inter. "He proved it today. He was the man of the match."

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