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Uruguay to face Netherlands, after Ghana's double penalty nightmare

Uruguay are through to the World Cup semifinals, after Ghana lost out twice from the penalty spot. The Netherlands surprisingly beat Brazil 2-1 in Friday's earlier match, and will face Uruguay in the semis.

Luis Suarez clears the ball off the Uruguayan goal line with his hands, he was sent off for the offense.

Striker Suarez saved Uruguay with this last-minute handball

Ghana suffered double disappointment from the penalty spot against Uruguay in a heart-stopping quarterfinal.

Right at the end of extra time, with the score 1-1, Ghana won a penalty after Luis Suarez committed a blatant goal-line handball to prevent a Ghanaian goal.

Asamoah Gyan stepped up - having already scored twice from the spot for Ghana in the competition - and blasted the ball against the crossbar.

Due to this missed penalty, the match proceeded to a penalty shootout, which Uruguay won 4-2, thanks to back-to-back Ghanaian misses from John Mensah and Dominic Adiyiah. The two missed penalties were virtually identical, both hit weakly along the ground, to the left of Uruguay's keeper Fernando Muslera, but still easily within his reach.

Ghana's Dominic Adiyiah fails to score on a shootout penalty past Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

Uruguay's keeper made two solid saves to secure victory in the shootout.

Remarkably, Asamoah Gyan managed to recover his composure after missing moments earlier, burying Ghana's opening spot kick.

Despite one miss from the spot, Uruguay were able to hold their nerves and secure a semifinal berth.

Even match

Ghana's pacy side had been on course to make history against Uruguay at half time in the second quarterfinal of the World Cup in South Africa.

Ghana's Sulley Muntari, left, celebrates after scoring a goal with teammate Kwadwo Asamoah.

Sulley Muntari, left, opened the scoring for Ghana with a real corker

No African team has ever reached the semifinals in the history of the competition, and that record will now stand for at least four more years.

The Africans led 1-0 at the break, thanks to a remarkable long-range goal from Sulley Muntari moments before the half-time whistle. Muntari rifled a curling shot into the bottom corner from at least 30 meters out; the Uruguayan keeper Fernando Muslera was very poorly positioned to deal with the ambitious strike.

Uruguay got back in the game early in the second half, after star striker Diego Forlan scored with a curling freekick. Ghana's goalkeeper Richard Kingston, who had a number of shaky moments in the match, was at least partly to blame for the equalizer.

Netherlands waiting in semis

Wesley Sneijder hugs Dirk Kuyt after scoring

Sneijder (center) and Holland fought hard for the result

In a second half comeback, the Netherlands beat Brazil 2-1 in Friday's ealier fixture, even though they had struggled in the early going.

Wesley Sneijder put the Dutch ahead on 68 minutes, benefiting from a deft flick-on by Dirk Kuyt off an Arjen Robben corner kick.

The Netherlands' equalizer moments earlier could just as easily have been credited to Wesley Sneijder as well, rather than being a Felipe Melo own goal. The midfielder crossed from the right, and the ball drifted straight through the crowd in the penalty area, brushing Melo's head on its direct route towards goal.

It was a nightmare second half for Melo, who was sent off on 73 minutes after kicking out at Netherlands star Arjen Robben. At this point, a goal down with only ten men, it already seemed that Brazil's World Cup was over.

Game of two halves

Robinho celebrates after scoring the opening goal.

Robinho scored moments after he had a goal disallowed

Until their equalizer, the Dutch had arguably looked the lesser side, struggling to find any rhythm to their play. Brazil could have taken a larger lead in at half time, but only managed to put one past their European opponents in the opening 45 minutes.

It took the 'Selecao' just ten minutes to open the scoring against the Netherlands at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elisabeth.

Forward Robinho finished coolly after being put clean through against a somewhat static Dutch backline.

The ball had already hit the back of the net moments earlier, again through Robinho. However, that goal was disallowed - correctly - for an offside during the buildup.

Netherlands looking to break their duck

Despite their reputation for talented, attacking soccer teams, the Dutch are battling to win their first ever World Cup.

The Netherlands lost in the finals in 1974 and 1978 and have thrown a host of other good chances away, often because of dissention within their own ranks. Beating hot favorites Brazil - the most successful World Cup country in history - has strengthened their credentials to finally open their account in 2010.

Author: Mark Hallam
Editor: Nicole Goebel

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