For the second half, Italy replaced the menacing Causio with Claudio Sala,
a far more defensive player than the Juve right-winger.
The Dutch for their part pushed Neeskens further forward,
and the change in the pattern of play was almost instantaneous,
a powerful header from the Barcelona midfielder at a Krol free-kick
bringing a great save out of Zoff.
Italy, confident of their ability to close the game down,
had surrendered the initiative, a mistake that was to cost them dearly.
Soon after the break, the vital goal arrived, and again the name of the scorer was a surprise.
There was an exchange of headers just outside the Italian penalty area,
Gentile and Rep went up for a challenge,
and the ball dropped to Brandts.
The central defender let fly
(without even looking where the goals were, as the Italians ruefully complained)
and the ball flew into the net, taking Brandts into Dutch football folklore with it.
As the game became stretched, the tackles became nastier and tempers frayed.
The Dutch, as ever, were far from blameless.
Haan was booked for a foul on Tardelli,
then Rossi had the ball in the net as Bettega headed a cross his way,
only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.
Indeed, the Dutch, now with the scoreline they needed,
started to rely heavily on this offside weapon,
and the efforts of the Italian strikers became more and more sporadic.
Still they had their moments, though, Krol's superb tackle on Rossi saving one situation,
but their composure had all but deserted them.
Cabrini was booked for a gratuitous bite at Haan's ankles with the ball long gone,
a foul which could well have produced the red card.
The Dutch replaced the lukewarm Rep with Adri van Kraay,
who adopted a holding position in what was now a five-man midfield,
adding further to the Italians' frustrations.
When Benetti elbowed Neeskens in the throat, the referee took no action,
but Tardelli's two agricultural swings at Poortvliet in quick succession
were more than he could tolerate, and another Italian would miss the Final.
Italy grew more frantic in attack, and less thorough in their defensive marking duties.
With 15 minutes left, Gentile fouled Rensenbrink off the ball.
Krol took the free-kick quickly to Haan,
who advanced up the inside-left channel and let fly from his customary 25 yards.
The ball whizzed past Zoff, who, like Maier before him, could do nothing but gape.
Italy brought on Francesco Graziani for Benetti,
but the contest was now beyond them.
Rather than sit back and defend, Holland took the latter minutes of the game
at a canter against a now dispirited Italy team.
Zoff was called into action again,
as Haan and Neeskens created a chance for full-back Poortvliet,
a throwback to the days of total football that would have pleased Michels.
The Italian goalkeeper was required to make another save
when Rensenbrink burst between two defenders
who were leaving a cross to each other.
The game was ending, in marked contract to the way it had begun,
with Holland totally on top,
stern in defence, closing the game down in a manner the Italians
would have appreciated, and with an efficiency the 1974 team could not have matched.
Italy, with nothing more to lose, had attacked passionately enough,
but, once the equaliser had gone in, they couldn't make another dent,
and Holland were through to another World Cup Final.
They had, frankly, struggled at first, and the manner of their passage through the first round
had been unspectacular, to say the least,
but the performances in the second phase had been exhilarating.
Once again, as they went into a World Cup Final, they had the world behind them.