Netherlands 0-0 Argentina
Vlaar – Saved 0-0
Messi – Scored 0-1 Argentina
Robben – Scored 1-1
Garay – Scored 2-1 Argentina
Sneijder – Saved 2-2 Argentina
Aguero – Scored 1-3 Argentina
Kuyt – Scored 2-3 Argentina
Mazi Rodriguez – Scored 2-4 Argentina
Argentina win 4-2 on penalties
Argentina set up a World Cup final date with Germany, after a penalty shootout win against Netherlands in Sao Paolo. Goalkeepers were again at the centre of attention after a rather monotonous 120 minutes of football.
Robin van Persie passed a late fitness test, but Sergio Aguero wasn’t fit enough to start. PSG’s Ezequiel Lavezzi kept his place in the Argentine frontline. Argentina’s big miss was Real Madrid’s Angel di Maria, and Benfica’s Enzo Perez replaced him.
Argentina have relied on a solid defence and some rare moments of magic from Messi to reach the semi-final, and that set the tone of the game. Netherlands looked stifled all over, as the trio of Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben failed to deliver the magic that made them the toast of the earlier stages of the tournament.
Despite Argentina’s fine defensive play, just like the Dutch, they failed to offer anything tangible upfront. Aston Villa centre back Ron Vlaar was impressive throughout. Louis van Gaal employed AC Milan midfield hardman Nigel de Jong to mark Lionel Messi, and that tactic was clear from the start as the Barcelona man failed to make any inroads into the Dutch defence.
Messi did provide the only highlight of the first half, when his freekick was comfortably saved by Cilessen, after Vlaar had fouled Perez. Argentina’s defensive solidity can be highlighted by the fact that Arjen Robben got a touch of the ball only 4 times in the opening 45 minutes. As rain poured down heavily, chances were few and far between.
Gonzalo Higuain missed a chance to put the Argentinians ahead, as he could only side net a cross from Enzo Perez. Alejandro Sabella sent on Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero and Inter forward Rodrigo Palacio in place of Gonzalo Higuain and Enzo Perez, with 10 minutes left, but Argentina still lacked the cutting edge.
van Gaal replaced the toothless van Persie with Schalke forward Klaas Jan Huntelaar in an attempt to reshuffle the forward line. Netherlands produced their first shot on target on 99 minutes, when Arjen Robben tested Sergio Romero, who rather made an easy save.
Cillessen made some quickfire saves from Palacio and Maxi Rodriguez before the game finally descended into penalties. Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder missed their penalties, while Argentina were bang on target with theirs.
The Netherlands campaign, which started with a 5-1 win over reigning champions Spain, ended on a rather dull note against a resurgent Argentina side. Argentina, now will face Germany in the final.
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