The Netherlands put an end to a grueling World Cup quarterfinal battle today by overcoming Costa Rica in shootouts. The game went scoreless for its entire duration, with the Dutch unable to break down the Costa Rican defensive wall. With Costa Rica on the outs, the Dutch will now look ahead to their semifinal match against Argentina next Wednesday, July 9, at the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo.
The Costa Rican defense presented a massive challenge to the Dutch by playing high and compact. The Dutch had difficulty staying onsides and had several wasted opportunities as a result. It was not until the end of the first half that the Netherlands started to find and create the space to slip past the Costa Rican back line. Even then, Los Ticos managed to thwart much of the Dutch attempts to create a scoring opportunity.
Arjen Robben was able to provide a constant threat down the flanks, winning the Dutch a fair portion of the team’s 11 corner kicks and 15 free kicks. The Dutch were able to hold the ball centrally, however could not penetrate the Costa Rican back line without drawing the offsides call. After 90 minutes of play the Dutch had managed to get pinned offsides a total of nine times by Los Ticos. By the end of extra time, that number increased to 13 offside calls.
Costa Rica turned up the heat at the end of extra time, leaving the Dutch to take a moment on the back burner. Luckily Oranje goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was able to make two crucial saves that otherwise would have ended the road for the Dutch in the World Cup. After another volley of Dutch attacks, the whistle was blown and both teams readied for penalty kicks—but not before Oranje coach Luis van Gaal made a goalie change. Cillessen came out in the 121st minute to make way for Tim Krul to man the goal for the Dutch in shootouts.
Costa Rica: Celso Borges finishes with a ground ball to the right corner of the goal.
Netherlands: Robin van Persie follows suit with a low shot to the right corner’s side netting.
Costa Rica: Bryan Ruiz tries to place the ball in the right corner but Tim Krul makes the save for the Netherlands.
Netherlands: Arjen Robben drove a shoulder-height strike that found the back of the net; Keylor Navas dove in the opposite direction.
Costa Rica: Giancarlo González found the back of the net, placing the ball just beyond Krul’s reach on the right side.
Netherlands: Wesley Sneijder placed the ball in the left corner of the goal while Keylor dove the other way.
Costa Rica: Cristian Bolaños had no trouble shooting the ball in the upper-v, well beyond the scope of Krul’s reach.
Netherlands: Dirk Kuyt narrowly missed grazing the left post, but scored in the side netting of the goal.
Costa Rica: Michael Umaña’s shot was not hit wide enough and Krul was able to make the game-winning save for the Netherlands.
Penalty Kick result: Netherlands 4-3 Costa Rica
The Netherlands were rewarded in shootouts after a frustrating 121 minutes of football against Costa Rica. The Costa Rican defense proved to be the most challenging back line that the Oranje have faced in the World Cup. Louis van Gaal made a coaching decision to be praised by putting in Tim Krul at the end of extra time. Decisions such as this are what give van Gaal his reputation of being a technical mastermind in the sport. For now, the Netherlands will look ahead to prepare for their next hurdle in the World Cup: a semifinal match against Lionel Messi and Argentina.
Commentary by Courtney Anderson
Read more Guardian Liberty Voice coverage on the FIFA World Cup Quarterfinals
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