CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- The Netherlands finally turned on the style at the World Cup in South Africa to reach its third final -- and first in 32 years -- with a 3-2 victory over Uruguay on Tuesday.
Wesley Sneijder scored his fifth goal in South Africa and Giovanni van Bronckhorst added one of the goals of the tournament. Arjen Robben also scored as the Dutch never looked troubled despite a late onslaught from the two-time champions from South America.
"This is unforgettable," Sneijder said. "It was a tough fight and toward the end we complicated matters. Sunday we play in the World Cup final. I have to get used to that."
Van Bronckhorst scored with a 35-meter (yard) shot in the 18th minute, but Diego Forlan equalized in the 41st with his fourth goal of the tournament, despite playing through the pain of a thigh injury.
"It was bothering me a lot," Uruguay's top scorer said. "At times I felt a great frustration because I wasn't 100 percent."
Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk replaced Demy de Zeeuw with Rafael van der Vaart at halftime and the attacking move paid off as Sneijder and Robben scored after the break.
Maximiliano Pereira scored for Uruguay in injury time but the Dutch weathered the late Uruguayan pressure, and the Orange-clad fans at Green Point Stadium erupted at the final whistle.
"This is very special," said Van Marwijk, who took over as coach two years ago. "After 32 years we play the final again. Such a small country. We can be very proud of this."
Most of the jubilant Dutch squad returned to the field 45 minutes after the match to dance and cheer with a group of about 1,000 orange-clad fans cheering and beating drums.
As the players danced, the fans chanted, "Holland! Holland! Holland!"
"Unbelievable. If you win the final, you make yourself immortal, at least in our country," Robben said. "It is 32 years since the Netherlands was in the final of a World Cup and we will do everything we can to take the cup back."
The Netherlands' only international title came at the 1988 European Championship, but it is now on a 25-match unbeaten run and has won 10 straight as it heads to a World Cup final against either Spain or Germany.
Seen as beautiful footballers but perennial underachievers on the world stage, the Netherlands has played a tougher brand of football in South Africa, aiming to dominate possession and wait for openings rather than carve open defenses with creative flair.
"I love attacking and beautiful football, but you have to work together when the opponent has the ball and then you can go a long way," Van Marwijk said.
It has served the team well -- the Netherlands is the only team with a perfect record at the World Cup.