RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilians already downhearted at missing out on reaching the World Cup final watched in dismay Saturday as their national team lost to the Netherlands 3-0 in the third-place match.
Across the nation, fans hoping for some measure of redemption were crushed as Brazil failed to score and said their only solace was that the country managed to put on a good World Cup show for the world.
Brazilian soldier Julio Cesar Carioca compared his connection with Brazil's team to life itself.
"You go into things with great expectations, but rarely do those expectations play out in reality," Carioca said. "It's football. Things happen."
In Rio, tens of thousands of fans watched the game on a massive TV on Copacabana Beach and the mostly Brazilian crowd stood in silence as the Netherlands knocked in one goal after another.
Argentine fans who have flooded into the city ahead of their country's final match against Germany on Sunday cheered and chanted songs mocking Brazil's football prowess.
At the Alzirao street fest in Rio where thousands cheered Brazil in earlier tournament games, only a few hundred showed up on Saturday and small business owner Angelica Morellato Seabra was among them wearing Brazil's national team jersey. She was disgusted with the outcome.
"I'm trying to forget the whole thing, but it's going to be difficult," said Seabra, 56. "If you draw you forget, but if you lose like we do, forgetting is impossible."
On Copacabana Beach, university student Luiz de Almeira shook his head in dismay each time Brazil seemed like it would score but missed opportunities.
"I'm proud of being Brazilian but I'm mad because we could have been making history," the 20-year-old business major said. "The team has not shown what it is capable of doing and the only salvation is that Brazil has managed to show it could pull off a good World Cup."
Nathalia Gomes, an 18-year-old high school student, said she hoped Brazil's World Cup would be remembered more for the people's hospitality than for the national team's losses, especially Brazil's 7-1 thrashing by Germany.
"This World Cup should go down in history for the friendliness of the fans, for the party we through and not for the 7-1 defeat," said Gomes, who watched the game from Alzirao.
Artur Jose, a 33-year-old administrative assistant, said Brazil's team for the 2014 tournament will be remembered as its worst ever.
"We didn't have any sort of strategy, no cohesion, no game and only one good player," he said, referring to Neymar, who was knocked out of the competition with an injury. "The one good thing that might come out of this humiliation would be if people remember this feeling at the ballot boxes during the elections" in October to select a new president.
"Brazil is going through hard times: On the pitch and off," he said.
While many Brazilians objected to the billions spent to put on the World Cup, few protests materialized during the event. But 66-year-old Magali Garcia Linares said the team's terrible performance reinforced her opposition to big spending by Brazil for international sporting events. The country next hosts the 2016 Olympics.
"How can you hold an event like this in a country with zero health, zero education?" she asked. "The quantities that were spent were vast and in vain. For this World Cup, the only things that were done were the visible things that foreigners would see and notice. The invisible things, things that really matter, were left undone."
Gomez reported from Sao Paulo. Associated Press writer Alan Clendenning contributed from Rio de Janeiro.