At halftime: Van Persie, Blind goals have Netherlands up two on Brazil — FOLLOW LIVE

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At first, Tuesday didn’t seem like much of a fluke after all. Conceding twice in the first 16 minutes, Brazil’s defense again went AWOL, digging a hole for the host nation after a pair of disappointing breakdowns. With goals from Robin van Persie and Daley Blind, the Netherlands were on the verge of replicating Germany’s semifinal slaughter.

Over the half’s last 20 minutes, however, Brazil were the most dangerous side, reaching the halftime whistle with edges in possession and shotsl.

The edge that mattered, however, remained the Dutch’s. At intermission in Brazil’s capital, it’s 2-0, the Netherlands.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Brazil vs. Netherlands ]

Goals:

2′ – Who knows what this referee is doing? Arjen Robben, racing past the Brazilian defense, is pulled down at the shoulder, seemingly from behind, by Thiago Silva just outside the Brazil penalty box. Not only does referee Djamel Haïmoudi erroneously point to the spot, but he only shows Silva yellow. When Robin Van Persie puts the ensuing penalty kick into the upper-right hand corner, the Netherlands have their lead. Too bad it should be 0-0 … and 11-on-10.

16′ – As an open quarter-hour comes to an end, the Dutch extend their lead. After a cross from the right is cleared weakly by David Luiz back to the penalty spot, Daley Blind has time to take two touches before putting the Netherlands’ second under the cross-bar, into the right of goal. It’s the 100th goal Brazil have conceded at in World Cup history, one that leaves them down two.

Other key moments:

21′ – From just above the arc, Oscar lets go of a right-footed shot, one that’s smothered by Jasper Cillesen. It’s the first time the Dutch keeper’s been called into action.

33′ – For the second time tonight, Brazil’s found success going down their right, this time seeing Maicon draw a foul on Georginio Wijnaldum just outside the penalty box. Oscar’s restart bends and drops at the edge of the six-yard box but misses Luiz, with Wijnaldum heading back and clear of goal.

Questions for the second half

Has Brazil’s defense settled in? – Though the Seleçao defense looked terrible over the game’s first 16 minutes, they held the Dutch to one shot on target throughout the remainder of the half. Was that the team coming together? Or was it the Dutch taking their foot off the pedal?

Is this playing in to Dutch’s hands? – The Netherlands have been willing to play without the ball all tournament, relying on their counterattack to create chances. Though Brazil made progress over the half’s final half-hour, is their pursuit playing into the Dutch’s plans? The more isolated Silva and Luiz become, the more likely Robben is to finish this game off.

LIVE, FA Cup semifinal: Chelsea v. Southampton

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Chelsea and Southampton clash in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley on Sunday (10 a.m. ET kick off) for the right to play Manchester United in the final on May 19.

[ LIVE: Updates from Wembley ]

Antonio Conte led Chelsea to the FA Cup final last season but they lost to Arsenal. Even though the Blues are up against it to finish in the top four in the league, winning the cup would be a big success for Conte.

Saints haven’t made a cup semifinal since 2003 when they lost to Arsenal in the final. Mark Hughes‘ side are entrenched in the relegation zone and have a bigger challenge than making the final.

[ MORE: Minute-by-minute on Chelsea v Saints

Click on the links above to follow the action live, while we will have reaction and analysis live from Wembley right here on Pro Soccer Talk.

Arrests made after violent soccer riot in South Africa

AP Photo/Bongani Mbatha - African News Agency
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DURBAN, South Africa (AP) Police say two people have been arrested and more arrests are imminent after a violent riot at a South African soccer game on Saturday night, when hundreds of fans ripped up parts of the stadium, invaded the field, and seriously assaulted at least one security guard.

Players had to run for the safety of the dressing rooms as the fans swept onto the field soon after the final whistle.

[ MORE: The latest Arsene Wenger news ]

Police responded with stun grenades to disperse the rioters, and television pictures showed riot police storming the field and a white armored police vehicle racing across the edge of the pitch.

South African Police Services spokeswoman Nqobile Gwala on Sunday confirmed the arrests and said the two people were facing charges of public violence and malicious damage to property.

The violence mainly by Kaizer Chiefs fans followed their team’s 2-0 loss to Free State Stars in the semifinals of the Nedbank Cup competition at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in the east coast city of Durban, one of the stadiums built for the 2010 World Cup.

In the most disturbing scenes, a female security guard was set upon by a group of supporters on the field. She lay on the ground as they hit her with plastic chairs. A man then kicked her twice in the head. After the second kick she lay motionless and face down on the grass.

Police spokeswoman Gwala did not say if anyone had died in the violence, saying police had no information yet from stadium or medical authorities on any deaths.

Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela resigned after the game.

“Emotional” Mertesacker: Send Wenger off “with a cup”

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Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has made 220 appearances for the club, all with one man in charge of the Gunners: Arsene Wenger.

[ MORE: The latest Arsene Wenger news ]

Mertesacker has won three FA Cups with Wenger, and he took up his pen — or laptop — for Sunday’s Matchday program.

The 33-year-old German says it’s down to Arsenal’s players to send off Wenger right: With two more successful rounds in the UEFA Europa League against Atletico Madrid and either Red Bull Salzburg or Marseille. From the BBC:

“We were only informed on Friday about the manager’s decision to step down at the end of the season, so it’s still quite emotional,” Mertesacker said.

“He’s been the major figure of this club for more than 20 years. He’s been so impressive for me and he has trusted me so much throughout my career, in bringing me here and making me captain even when I was injured. He also gave me a future role here at the club so I am very grateful and humbled for the opportunity he gave to me.

“There’s now an emphasis on us doing it for him too. We want to give him the send-off he deserves: with a cup.”

The French legend to end his time at Arsenal against Marseille would be delightful, don’t you think?

Watch Live: Arsenal-West Ham, Stoke-Burnley

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The Premier League has a pair of 8:30 a.m. ET Sunday kickoffs for us this morning, including one of Arsene Wenger‘s final matches at Arsenal.

There’s a London Derby between Arsenal and West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium, as the Gunners look to stay fresh for Atletico Madrid and the Hammers aim to firm up their Premier League status for next season (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

LINEUPS

Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Elneny, Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi, Welbeck, Lacazette. Subs: Macey, Mertesacker, Holding, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Nelson. Aubameyang.

West Ham United: Hart, Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Rice, Cresswell, Masuaku, Kouyate, Noble, Fernandes, Mario, Arnautovic. Subs: Adrian, Cullen, Evra, Lanzini, Hugill, Carroll, Chicharito.


Stoke City’s climb out of the relegation zone will have to overcome Burnley’s desires for a Top Six place, as the Clarets can pass sixth place Arsenal with a win and a Gunners loss to West Ham (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

LINEUPS

Stoke City: Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, M.Indi, Pieters; Bauer, Allen, Badou, Shaqiri; Crouch, Diouf. Subs: Haugaard, Zouma, Ireland, Cameron, Fletcher, Ramadan, Campbell.

Burnley: Pope, Lowton, Long, Tarkowski, Ward, Lennon, Cork, Westwood, Gudmundsson, Wood, Barnes. Subs: Heaton, Taylor, Marney, Vokes, Hendrick, Walters, Bardsley.