Courageous Costa Rica finally bow out after Krul ending
The Netherlands (7/2 tournament outsiders) have booked their place in the semi-finals with Argentina after becoming the first country this World Cup to finally get the better of Costa Rica.
Clockwork Orange totally dominated the match in terms of possession (64 per cent) and total shots (20 against the Central Americans’ six), but were still unable to break the wall that is Keylor Navas in open play.
In demand Levante keeper Navas pulled off another string of top class saves, but it was the third stopper of the night, Newcastle United’s Tim Krul, whose dramatic late entrance helped his side progress via penalties.
While the Netherlands are the tournament’s joint-top scorers (equal with Colombia on 12) Costa Rica have conceded the fewest (two), and it is the latter who certainly won their battle in the first 120 minutes.
All of Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Memphis Depay were unable to beat Navas early on, but it was late in the second half of normal time where most of the action and drama happened.
Midfielder Sneijder, who scored a late equaliser against Mexico in the last round, hit the cross bar following a fantastic effort from a freekick, while Van Persie had three chances to break the deadlock.
Extra time saw more pressing from the Dutch, with Ron Vlaar’s header saved and Sneijder again hitting the bar. Costa Rica were not without their chances, though, and substitute Marcos Urena could’ve even had a penalty.
It was what happened in the dying moments of extra time that was inevitably key for the Netherlands. Louis van Gaal made the unusual decision to bring on keeper Krul in place of Jasper Cillessen especially for the penalty shootout.
The reserve stopper had not featured this tournament before this, and it was a bold move by the confident manager to do so, but ultimately it all worked out.
Krul saved twice in the shootout, after some antics, from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana, who scored the decisive penalty against Greece in the last round to send them through, with the Dutch netting all theirs.
A shaky display for the second match running, after beating Mexico at the death in the last 16 sees Van Gaal’s side progress again, and face Argentina, who have also failed to fully impress this tournament.
The Netherlands are not fancied by Coral to win this game and reach their second successive World Cup final, as they are priced at 11/5 for victory and 6/5 to qualify.