Brazil and the Netherlands lived up to their status as the day's favourites by easing to respective wins over Chile and Slovakia. The duo will now meet in an intriguing-looking quarter-final at Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth on Friday.
That encounter will be the third time in the last five FIFA World Cups™ that the two sides have met in the knockout phase. The Brazilians emerged victorious on the two previous occasions, winning 3-2 in the last eight at USA 1994 and 4-2 on penalties in the semi-finals of France 1998.
Brazil's class of 2010 were hugely impressive in booking their place in the last eight again, surging to an emphatic 3-0 defeat of Marcelo Bielsa's Chile at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, the setting for their FIFA Confederations Cup final triumph last year. Producing some compelling football at times, A Seleção once again proved lethal in front of goal, taking their chances with aplomb.
Falling some way short of the standards they set in the group phase, La Roja suffered the same fate that befell them at France 1998, when they lost 4-2 to Brazil in the Round of 16. For a team that had entertained high hopes of reaching the quarter-finals for only the second time in their history, it was a sad end to a tournament that had promised much.
In the day's first game, the Netherlands confirmed their title aspirations with another convincing display. A combative Slovakia were no match for the Dutch as they chalked up a 2-1 triumph, their fourth win in four games in South Africa. The last time the Oranje put together a run like this in the FIFA World Cup was at Germany 1974, when they lost to Franz Beckenbauer's West Germany in the Final.
Though Bert van Marwijk's men have yet to hit the aesthetic heights reached by the Clockwork Orange, Arjen Robben's first start of the tournament gave them an extra dimension up front, especially when linking up with Wesley Sneijder. The two conjured up the first goal, the Inter Milan midfielder playing a long ball over the top of the Slovakia defence for Robben to scamper on to, cut inside, and rifle home. Sneijder added a second late on to secure the Netherlands a place in the quarter-finals for the fifth time in the last nine FIFA World Cups.
Goal of the day
Brazil 2-0 Chile, Luis Fabiano, 38 mins: Receiving a headed pass from Luis Fabiano in the middle of the pitch, Robinho took off down the left before squaring to Kaka just outside the box. The Real Madrid midfielder's cute first-time pass took out Chile’s central defenders at a stroke and allowed the waiting Fabuloso to skip round Claudio Bravo and roll the ball home.
One to remember
Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg kept his side ahead thanks to a superb reflex save from Robert Vittek with 23 minutes remaining in Durban. Receiving a pass just inside the box, the big centre-forward turned and unleashed a fierce drive that brought the very best out of Stekelenburg, his one-handed stop proving the highlight of another assured display between the sticks.
Quote of the day
"We are proud at having reached the last 16 but the better team got through to the next round. At least with that penalty we can head home a little bit happier," Vladimir Weiss, Slovakia coach.
Stat of the day
5 - This is the fifth consecutive time and the 16th in all that Brazil have finished among the top eight sides at the FIFA World Cup. The last time that the five-time world champions went out at an earlier stage was at Italy 1990, when they lost 1-0 to Argentina in the Round of 16. Their other two premature exits came in the group phases at Italy 1934 and England 1966.
Voice of the fans
"I'm still proud of Chile's performance in the WC. I'm sure they will progress and get better, since they are a young side after all. Good job Brazil, you played a great game! I'm excited to see the Netherlands v Brazil match," FIFA.com user kami15.
Have your say
Will Brazil prove too strong for the Netherlands, or can the Dutch avenge previous FIFA World Cup defeats by the South Americans? How satisfied will Chile and Slovakia feel with their respective campaigns?