Argentina beat the Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout on Wednesday in semi-final match at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo.
After 120 minutes of scoreless regular and extra time, Argentina scored four penalty kicks to the Netherlandsâ€™ two, earning a spot in Sundayâ€™s championship against Germany. Argentina has won all six of its games in this tournament by a combined score of 8-3.
Coach Alejandro Sabella said it had been a very difficult and tight game: â€śI’m very happy because we reached the final and now we will see what we can do,” he said. We will give everything as usual, with humility, work and 100 per cent effort.â€ť
In the penalty shootout, Lionel Messi, Ezequiel Garay, Sergio Aguero and Maxi Rodriguez converted their spot-kicksâ€”Rodriguez scoring the clincher off the hands of Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen. Meanwhile, Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved against Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder to secure his status as a hero.
â€śEnjoy the moment, we will enjoy it and tomorrow we will start working for the final,” Romero, who was once coached by Van Gaal, said in a televised interview.
â€śI feel immense happiness, I’m really happy with everything. (Penalties) are a question of luck, that is the reality. I had confidence in myself and, fortunately, everything turned out well. Hope has been intact since day one.â€ť
For Messi, it is widely believed a World Cup championship will elevate him to the same mythical plane occupied by another Argentine football legend, Diego Maradona.
Maradona almost singlehandedly lifted his country to the World Cup title in 1986, in part with his famous “Hand of God” goal in the quarterfinals against England.Â He is considered by many to be the second greatest football player of all time behind Brazilian extraordinaire Pele, says VOA News.
Argentinian fans inside the Corinthians Arena shouted â€śsiete, siete,â€ť what means â€śsevenâ€ť hoping the South American’s could match the seven goals scored against their rivals Brazil.
For Argentina it will be their fifth World Cup final, with two wins in 1978 and 1986. Alejandro Sabella’s team will face Germany on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro in what will be a rematch of the 1986 and 1990 finals.
The Netherlands led this World Cup with 12 goals, however the teamâ€™s patient, counterattacking tactics produced nothing in the quarterfinals and semifinals after their victory against Mexico in the Round of 16.
â€śWe didnâ€™t create very much. In all the other matches we created more opportunities than we did today. That says something about Argentina,â€ť Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal said after the match.
The Netherlands defender Vlaar said of his missed attempt: â€śIn the penalty I wasn’t nervous I, concentrated. It had to go in and it didn’t. We didn’t get that many chances (during the game). We could have created more chances, but we didn’t. We didn’t get the chance to score and that’s a shame.â€ť
The Netherlands will face Brazil on Saturday in Brasilia in the tournamentâ€™s third-place match. The Dutch squad was aiming for a repeat trip to the World Cup title match. It lost the 2010 championship to Spain, 1-0, and entered this yearâ€™s tournament with more modest expectations.