Under-pressure Brazil coach Nelson Rodrigues admitted afterwards that the contest had been tremendously exciting, but said: "It must have been great for everyone to see, but for me there was too much at stake. It was a hard game and there was a high price to pay watching it."
The match was a nail-biter and the Brazilians, clearly smarting from their shock defeat against Gambia, started brightly, causing numerous problems for the Dutch almost from the kick-off. Skipper Denilson brought a great reflex save out of Tim Krul after only two minutes, but the main threat came from down the right flank, where Anderson gave the Netherlands nightmares.
He dragged the ball wide of goal when he should have hit the target, though the real danger was posed by his series of teasing, inswinging free-kicks. They tested the outstanding Krul to the limit, but he was to be beaten by one of them as Igor gave his nod of approval by heading home the opening goal (0:1, 8').
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Krul was called upon to keep the Dutch in the match many times in the opening stages as Brazil ran the Netherlands ragged and their coach Ruud Kaiser was forced into a tactical substitution as early as the 21st-minute, bringing Tom Hiariej on for Jordy Buijs.
Holland started without key striker Marvin Emnes as he had a stomach upset and the Netherlands did not look like they would be able to pose any threat to Brazil, but as the half wore on they grew in confidence and gradually forced their way into proceedings.
First John Goossens broke menacingly down the left hand side and fired across the Brazilian goalmouth, though nobody was on hand to turn the centre home. However, the winger was instrumental in the Netherlands' equaliser when it came soon afterwards.
The Ajax striker sprinted down the centre chasing a hopeful pass and put Brazil defender Sidnei under so much pressure he lofted the ball over stranded Santos keeper Felipe for an own goal (1:1, 28').
Now it was Felipe's turn to feel the heat, saving well from Diego Biseswar, who then also curled the ball just wide before Jeffrey Sarpong brought an outstanding stop from the Brazilian number one.
Krul kept busy by Brazil
The second half began much the same way as the first, with Brazil assuming the upper hand and making Newcastle United goalkeeper Krul the busiest man on the pitch. Krul made one great save from midfielder Ramon, but was then left helpless on the hour mark when the same player artfully slipped the ball past him by side-footing into the corner of the net (1:2, 60').
Kaiser quickly turned to Emnes and brought him on for Mitchell Schet to liven up the Dutch attack again and he dribbled his way through into a fabulous shooting position, but Felipe was once more on top form to block him and Vurnon Anita could only bundle the rebound wide.
Renato almost extended Brazil's lead with a curling free-kick that brushed past Krul's post, who then had his crossbar rattled by a thundering drive from Leyrielton and Ramon should have done much better with the follow-up, but he failed to take advantage.
In keeping with the pattern of this pulsating ebb and flow game, Goossens struck the Brazil bar with an incredible curler from distance, but Brazil emerged victorious, leaving both sides battling for qualification on three points with one game to go.
Holland would seem to have the tougher task as they take on group leaders Gambia in Lima on Friday, with Brazil facing the already-eliminated Qatar in Trujillo on the same day.
Netherlands coach Ruud Kaiser agreed that Brazil and Gambia are the favourites to go through now and he said: "I think Brazil will beat Qatar and get six points, so we are now in a very bad situation because if Gambia gets a draw against us, we are out. We have to win and then there will be three teams with six points, but Gambia is a very strong team. They have already beaten Brazil 3:1, so what can I say?"