Netherlands 0-0 Costa Rica
Borges – Scored 0-1 Costa Rica
van Persie – Scored 1-1
Ruiz – Saved 1-1
Robben – Scored 2-1 Netherlands
Gonzalez – Scored 2-2
Sneijder – Scored 3-2 Netherlands
Bolanos – Scored 3-3
Kuyt – Scored 4-3 Netherlands
Umana – Saved 4-3 Netherlands
Netherlands win 4-3 on penalties
Netherlands progressed to the semi-finals the hard way, after beating heroic Costa Rica on penalties in the final quarter final game in Salvador.
Nigel de Jong was ruled out due to injury and was replaced by PSV Eindhoven midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum. Costa Rica named the same squad that knocked out Greece on penalties in the previous round.
Costa Rica, spearheaded by Arsenal’s Joel Campbell and Fulham’s Bryan Ruiz have boasted a strong defensive record in the World Cup, and it took a Netherlands team, consisting of van Persie, Robben, Sneijder and Kuyt 21 minutes to have their first attempt on goal. A cross from Kuyt landed at the feet of Memphis Depay who set up Manchester United striker van Persie, but it was saved by the brilliant Keylor Navas. The rebound from Sneijder too was saved by the Costa Rican goalkeeper.
Navas thwarted another effort from Depay, after he was released by van Persie. Costa Rica were stifled by a technically superior Netherlands side. They had to rely on long shots and freekicks. Christian Bolanos, the deadball specialist set up two chances, the first too high for Celso Borges to connect with and the second one he connected and sent it across goal, but Johnny Acosta failed to give it the finishing touch.
Navas came to Costa Rica’s resuce again when he prevented a Wesley Sneijder free kick from creeping into the top corner. Another free kick was headed over by Giancarlo Gonzalez, under pressure from Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar. Vlaar then skied his own effort off a Sneijder freekick.
Navas was proving to be a menace to the Dutch, and the rare times he failed to make a save, the post came to Netherlands’ rescue, as Sneijder’s freekick struck the woodwork. Moments later, van Persie’s shot from a Sneijder pass was turned away by Navas. Another effort from van Persie was deflected on to the post by defender Yeltsin Tejeda.
In extra time, a Vlaar header was thwarted away by Navas. Costa Rica found some energy in the dying moments, and almost won a penalty appeal after Marcos Urena was bought down by Vlaar. Urena then tested Ajax keeper Jasper Cillessen with a stinging shot.
Louis van Gaal played a late masterstroke, bringing Newcastle keeper Tim Krul on instead of Jasper Cillessen, as the match was destined to go to penalties. Borges scored his, before Bryan Ruiz and Umana had theirs saved. The Dutch were prolific with their penalties, van Persie, Robben, Sneijder and Kuyt all scoring.
It was a sad end for the brave Costa Ricans, but Netherlands will be more than pleased to have made it to the semi-finals against Lionel Messi’s Argentina.
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