Football

Netherlands defeat Costa Rica in tense penalty shootout

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The Netherlands progressed through to the World Cup semi-finals after a pulsating encounter against Costa Rica which ended in a penalty shootout.

What the match lacked in quality at times was more than made up for by the drama of the Costa Rican defending. Goalkeeper Keylor Navas put on a clinic as he refused to be beaten by the waves of dutch attack.

Robin van Persie was desperately unlucky to not score in the final minute of normal time, as his shot was desperately blocked onto the crossbar and out by Yeltsin Tejeda and the frantic Costa Rican defence. 

Extra-time brought more of the same as Costa Rica looked like they had their hearts set on penalties. Wesley Sneijder was denied by the crossbar with a sumptuous effort which gave Navas absolutely no chance.

But Costa Rica themselves had a chance to win with their only really meaningful attack of the whole match. A long ball was taken down by Bryan Ruiz, who turned his man before shooting hard and low straight at Jasper Cillessen, who stood firm and saved.

What Costa Rica lacked in ability, they more than made up for in heart and desire. They defended as a unit, giving Arjen Robben in particular no joy, forcing him onto his right foot at every opportunity and refusing to give a away an inch for a shot.

The penalty shootout loomed, and so came the most bizarre decision of the match. Louis van Gaal decided to sub out first-choice keeper Cillessen for Tim Krul. This was especially odd considering Krul had a penalty record of two saves from 20.

But somehow, it worked. All four Dutch penalties were expertly put away by Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt, while Krul made two saves both low to his right. This was vindication for Van Gaal and the exorcising of an age old Dutch fear of penalty shootouts, with this being their first ever successful one in a World Cup.

As for Costa Rica, they can look back proudly at what they have achieved in this tournament, going above and beyond anybody's expectations for them. They will surely be welcomed back as national heroes and rightfully so.

For the Netherlands, Argentina now await in what looks to be a fascinating semi-final encounter. Who would bet against Van Gaal's men doing what no side before them has done, and bring home the World Cup for the Oranje?

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Topics:
World Cup
Football

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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