2014 World Cup Roundup: Early goal pulls Argentina through, Costa Rica lose on penalties
2014 World Cup Roundup: Higuain’s early goal proves vital while the Netherlands go through on penalties.
The game kicked off lively with Argentina gaining the upper hand early on. Less than 10 minutes into the game, Messi passed the ball to Di Maria, who found himself in space down the right before cutting inside and playing a pass that deflected into Higuain’s way. The Napoli striker spared no time and instinctively drove the ball into the bottom left corner with his first touch. It didn’t all go well for the South Americans, though; Di Maria pulled his hamstring with 30 minutes on the clock and had to be taken off.
There wasn’t much of a difference in the second half as the Belgians showed the capacity to get hold of the ball for good periods of time, but lacked the creativity and the cutting edge in the final third. The major goal-scoring threat, once again, came from Argentina. Higuain went on a run managing a nutmeg on Kompany, giving himself space for a shot with only Courtios to beat, his shot scraped off the crossbar. Messi also had a chance to double their lead when he went one-on-one with Courtios, he tried to chip the ball past him, but the Belgian managed a save.
Netherlands 0-0 (pen. 5-3) Costa Rica
The Netherlands began the game with most of the possession, but had trouble getting past the Costa Ricans who put a lot of men behind the ball. Only when Sneijder’s pass found van Persie, whose shot was saved by Keylor Navas, and then rebounded into Sneijder’s reach did they make a threat. However, the 30-year-old’s shot was also saved by the Costa Rican keeper. Most of the chances were carved out by the Dutch while Costa Rica’s Borges managed a header that strayed past the far post, in what was almost the only threat Costa Rica posed in the first half.
The second half wasn’t any different than the first; Costa Rica were content with playing on the counter, leaving the Dutch with the majority of the ball, creating chances, yet proving too inefficient to convert any of them. The Netherlands could have easily went ahead throughout the whole second half, missing chance after chance mostly due to Navas’ heroics. Costa Rica’s lone threat was once again a header; Gonzalez headed the ball over the bar after Bolanos floated in a cross.
In both halves of extra time, the same scenario seemed to unfold with the exception of a few breaks on the counter for the Costa Ricans. Cillessen was really tested for the first time in the game when Urena forced him into a save to keep the score level. At the end of extra time, Louis Van Gaal took Cillessen out for Tim Krul, who went on to save two penalties, taking his team to the semi-finals.