Portugal beat Holland 1-0 to reach the last eight, but the match itself was overshadowed by an eccentric refereeing performance by Valentin Ivanov who showed 16 yellow and four red cards during an ill-tempered game in Nuremberg.
Maniche scored the only goal of the game, but Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side will have to play their quarter-final tie against England without Deco and Costinha both of whom were sent off in a match that descended into anarchy in the closing stages.
Holland coach Marco van Basten sprung a surprise before kick-off, dropping Ruud van Nistelrooy to the bench. For goalkeeper and captain Edwin van der Sar, it was a record 113th appearances in the national team – beating Frank de Boer’s tally of 112.
Holland’s Mark van Bommel had a great chance to open the scoring as early as the first minute, but his right-foot shot inches wide of the post with Ricardo beaten.
Robben looked lively for Holland in the opening stages, although his propensity to go to ground at the slightest hint of contact, did not endear him to the Portuguese defenders.
At this stage Portugal were struggling to get their game going, but when they did gel it was to devastating effect. Deco was fed by Ronaldo and his cross was laid off by Pauletta into the path of Maniche, who took one touch to sidestep Ooijer and a second to plant a firm shot past van der Sar.
The closest Holland came to an equaliser in the first half was when Van Persie twisted and turned, leaving several Portuguese defenders on the deck, but after doing wonderfully well to create some space for a shot, the Arsenal forward sliced his effort wide.
At the other end van der Sar had to be at his most alert to deny Pauletta with his feet after the Portuguese striker had swivelled and shot from the six-yard box.
Portugal’s cause was not helped when Costinha, who had earlier been booked for a reckless challenge on Cocu, received his marching orders for deliberately handling the ball. Scolari, ever the pragmatist, responded to Costinha’s dismissal by removing his lone striker Pauletta and bringing on a defender Petit.
Cocu should have levelled the scores just after the restart when the ball fell to him six yards out but his powerful strike rebounded off the crossbar. Moments later, van Bommel almost embarrassed Ricardo with a long range effort which the Portuguese keeper fumbled to safety.
Despite being reduced to ten men, Portugal retained an attacking threat with Miguel and Maniche bringing fine saves from van der Sar.
Portugal didn’t have to play too long with a man short, as, just after the hour mark Boulahrouz was dismissed. He collected his second yellow card after catching Figo in the face with a stray elbow. The decision prompted a brief ruckus between the respective benches which spilled onto the pitch and for a few seconds chaos ensued. Order was eventually restored, but having lost their numerical advantage Holland faced an uphill battle if they were to get back on level terms.
The game was turning ugly and Deco, angry that Holland had not returned possession after a drop-ball, scythed down Heitinga which in turn led to a melee involving several players from both sides. Sneijder, who was seen pushing one of the Portuguese players to the ground, was fortunate to be shown just a yellow card.
Shortly after his booking, Deco was dismissed for time wasting and Portugal had to play the final 15 minutes with only nine men. With a quarter of an hour remaining, the referee, Valentin Ivanov, having shown 15 yellow cards, was just one short of the World Cup record.
Marco van Basten may well have been ruing his decision to omit Ruud van Nistelrooy from his starting line-up, when, with ten minutes remaining, Dirk Kuyt missed a wonderful chance to level the scores but he shot weakly with only Ricardo to beat.
Ivanov, finally equalled the World Cup record when he showed Van Bronckhorst his second yellow card. It was Holland’s second red card, the match’s fourth red card and the 16th yellow card in total. Unfortunately, for the referee, who seemed intent on making his own piece of World Cup history, he failed to see van Persie pushing Ricardo in the final minute of stoppage time, for what surely would have been a 17th yellow card of the night.
Holland: Van der Sar, Van Bronckhorst, Mathijsen, Ooijer, Boulahrouz, Cocu, Sneijder, Van Bommel, Robben, Kuyt, Van Persie.
Subs used: van der Vaart 56 (for Mathijsen), Heitinga 67 (for Van Bommel), Vennegoor of Hesselink 84 (for Cocu).
Bookings: Van Bommel 2, Boulahrouz 8, Van Bronckhorst 59, Sneijder 74, Van der Vaart 74.
Sent-off: Boulahrouz 63, Van Bronckhorst 95.
Portugal: Ricardo, Nuno Valente, Ricardo Carvalho, Meira, Miguel, Maniche, Deco, Costinha, Figo, Pauleta, Ronaldo.
Subs used: Simao 34 (for Ronaldo), Petit 45 (for Pauletta), Tiago 82 (for Figo).
Bookings: Maniche 20, Costinha 31, Petit 50, Figo 60, Deco 73, Ricardo 76, Nuno Valente 76.
Red card: Costinha 31, Deco 78.
Referee: Frank De Bleeckere (Belgium).
Scorers: Valentin Ivanov (Russia).