NETHERLANDS 0, ARGENTINA 0 AET (Argentina win 4-2 on Penalties) – (WORLD CUP SEMI FINAL)
STALEMATE AFTER 2 HOURS; TIM KRUL DOES NOT COME ON FOR NETHERLANDS; PENALTIES AGONY FOR RON VLAAR AND WESLEY SNEIJDER
Following penalty heroics against Costa Rica it was back to penalty agony again for the Dutch as Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder missed spot kicks, meaning that the Netherlands had won only one in five shootouts, and Argentina progressed to a third World Cup final meeting against Germany at the Maracana on Sunday.
Dutch manager Louis Van Gaal opted to use his final substitution to bring on Klas Jan Huntelaar in extra time for Robin Van Persie rather than deploy Tim Krul again despite the fact that Dutch ‘keeper Jasper Cillessen hadn’t saved a penalty in his professional career.
Due to the unusual decision to deploy Vlaar as first penalty taker the pressure was on as soon as Vlaar’s effort was saved by Sergio Romero. Huntelaar was unable to take the fifth Dutch penalty after Wesley Sneijder’s effort was saved too.
After the stunning Brazil vs Germany game in Belo Horizonte yesterday this game had a lot to live up to but failed to reach those heights.
Both sides, as predicted, seemed cautious of conceding the first goal and neither seemed to be willing to commit too much to the attack and perhaps were too efficient in closing down each sides’ danger men.
Ron Vlaar and Martin Demichelis were arguably the most involved players on the pitch in a game featuring the likes of Lionel Messi, Arjen Robben, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Robin van Persie.
Vlaar in particular earned the most plaudits with a clutch of clearances to deny space and shooting opportunities to Messi in particular.
The most excitement in normal time came from two late incidents. The first after 75 minutes when Gonzalo Higuain only managed to find the side netting but was wrongly adjudged offside as Enzo Perez’ cross came in from the right wing.
And in injury time Javier Mascherano, who was immense for Argentina, tracked Arjen Robben all the way back to the Argentine six yard box to execute a perfectly timed block to deflect his shot for a corner.
The Dutch looked more threatening in extra time, with the Argentine attacking threat diminished as Messi’s influence waned and Robben finally tested Sergio Romero in the Argentina goal with a 99th minute effort that was easily collected.
Argentina had two chances to seal it in extra time with minutes to go but Rodrigo Palacio saw his header saved by Cillessen and Maxi Rodriguez mishit his sidefooted chance after Messi had finally wriggled away from Vlaar and Dirk Kuyt on the right to put a cross in.
The game had been screaming for penalties since the first half of normal time and they duly provided the drama that was lacking in the previous two hours.
Netherlands vs Argentina Penalties
SAVED: Netherlands 0, Argentina 0: Ron Vlaar
SCORED: Netherlands 0, Argentina 1: Lionel Messi
SCORED: Netherlands 1, Argentina 1: Arjen Robben
SCORED: Netherlands 1, Argentina 2: Ezequiel Garay
SAVED: Netherlands 1, Argentina 2: Wesley Sneijder
SCORED: Netherlands 1, Argentina 3: Sergio Aguero
SCORED: Netherlands 2, Argentina 3: Dirk Kuyt
SCORED: Netherlands 2, Argentina 4: Maxi Rodriguez