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2014 World Cup Roundup: Netherlands complete late comeback, Costa Rica through on penalties
Netherlands 2-1 Mexico
The game kicked off lively with the Netherlands only taking 3 minutes to record their first shot on Ochoa. Mexico didn’t take long to trouble the Dutch either as a lively Miguel Layun cut inside from the left and tried a long range effort, which went over the cross bar. Moments later goalkeeper Cillessen rushed out of his box to clear a through ball from behind the defense but the clearance was incompetent and left the ball in no man’s land. Luckily for him, the Dutch defense got to the ball first and cleared the danger. The first half continued with both teams trading blows that proved insufficient to leave any impact on the scoreline.
The Mexicans only needed 3 minutes of second half time to find the back of the Dutch net. Giovani dos Santos latched onto a bouncing ball, controlling it and unleashing a drive into the bottom far corner from range. The Mexicans held their lead for 40 minutes before Klaas-Jan Huntelaar – who replaced Robin van Persie towards the end of the match – met Robben’s corner and headed the ball into the path of Sneijder, who half-volleyed it into the bottom left corner. Two minutes into extra time, Márquez made contact with Robben in the box to award the Dutch a penalty five minutes away from time. Huntelaar calmly converted the spot-kick in the bottom left corner sending the Netherlands straight into the quarter-finals.
Costa Rica 1-1 (Pen 5-3) Greece
The first half started fairly slowly with Costa Rica looking for the opener while Greece packed the midfield and defense to frustrate the Central Americans. The Greeks looked to threaten Costa Rica from a distance as a large proportion of their shots came from outside the penalty area. However, their major threat of the half came when Dimitrios Salpingidis forced Costa Rican keeper Navas into an amazing save to keep the score level. Costa Rica weren’t able to pose any real danger to the Greek defense with Karnezis heading out of the first half relatively untested.
Greece started the second half a bit more adventurously, playing right into Costa Rica’s hands, who reveled in the space allowed by the Greeks and took only six minutes to find the back of the net. Bryan Ruiz found himself unmarked at the edge of the box and curled Christian Bolaños’ ground cross into the bottom left corner. Things later seemed to change in the Greeks’ favor after Duarte received a second yellow card in the 66th minute and was, subsequently, sent off. Papastathopoulos capitalized on the Costa Rican deficiency in numbers as he pushed forward and provided the extra presence up front the Greeks needed, finishing off a rebound above grounded Navas.
Greece pushed for the winner throughout each half of extra time and forced Navas into several saves, but failed to make any impact on the scoreline. They paid for that dearly as Costa Rica qualified to the World Cup quarter-finals for their first time in history after winning 5-3 on penalties, setting up a clash with the Dutch.