The Dutch soccer team advanced to World Cup 2014 semifinals by defeating Costa Rica 4-3 in a dramatic penalty shootout. The Saturday victory at Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova sends the Netherlands to play Wednesday in Sao Paulo against Argentina, which defeated Belgium 1-0 earlier in the day in Brasilia.
A bold substitution of goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen to 26-year-old backup keeper Tim Krul after scoreless 120 minutes gave the Dutch two thrilling saves and a chance to make all four of its penalty tries. Krul dove to the correct side of his goal for each penalty kick taken by Costa Rica and saved the shots from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana.
â€śWe felt Krul was the better choice here â€” and he proved that,â€ť Netherlands Coach Louis van Gaal said. â€śHe guessed the correct way for every penalty.â€ť
The Dutch, three-time World Cup runners-up, dominated the match statistically – they had three times as many shots and took over the ball nearly two-thirds of the game, but the team couldnâ€™t make it a goal.
Costa Rica, with the excellent Keylor Navas in goal, a hero in Costa Rica’s last 16 penalty shootout win over Greece, hit the woodwork three times – twice late in normal time and again in the extra-time period.
â€śWe have a brilliant, spectacular goalkeeper. What we did on the pitch, what we showed to the world, I think that is crucial. We are not a big power but we demonstrated things, we are leaving very proud,â€ť Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto told reporters.
â€śWe work with what we have. Weâ€™re going home undefeated in the World Cup and showed our worthiness.â€ť
Both teams had great chances to win it late in the final minutes of extra time. In the 117th minute, Marcos Urena nearly won it for Costa Rica, rounding the Netherlands defense to unleash a rocket that Cillessen kept out with his legs.
Two minutes later, Sneijder’s curling shot beat Navas but crashed off the cross bar. Robben’s ensuing shot rebounded off a teammate in the box, says Yahoo Sports.
“I think we created a lot of chance and we couldn’t score,” Sneijder told ESPN’s John Sutcliffe after the dramatic conclusion. â€śWe were a little bit unlucky. We hit the post. We hit the bar. We had, like I said, a lot of chances. â€ś
He continued: â€śBut finally we won. I think tonight we definitely deserved to win. There was our only goal to go to the semifinal and we are there now. We have to recover well because it was a heavy match, a tough match.â€ť
The Netherlands will face Argentina in the semifinal, a reprise of the 1978 final that brought the South American side the first of their two World Cups. The Dutch, who lost to Spain in the 2010 final, are still looking for their first title.
Earlier in the night, Argentina, led by superstar Lionel Messi, scored early thanks to a sweetly struck volley by striker Gonzalo Higuain and held on for victory at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia.