Argentina ended the Dutch dream in penalties with Sergio Romero and Maxi Rodríguez ending the orange party in penalties, 4-2.
Byline: Jorge Belon, Editor in Chief
São Paulo–Sergio Romero makes two huge saves to set up Argentina with a chance to win the game and go to the final for the fourth time on Wednesday night, but substitute Maxi Rodríguez scored the penalty that won the game 4-2 in penalties, and sent Argentina to their third World Cup final date with Germany.
“Let’s enjoy it. I am immensely happy. I dedicate this to my Mum and my wife,” Romero told FIFA.com after the victory. “We have hoped for this since the first day. These lads never give away anything.”
A hundred twenty minutes had passed and both teams had created chances. Gonzalo Higuaín, the hero for Argentina in the last game, he nearly scored at the end of regulation, but his 74 minute volley would hit the outside of the net, fooling the announcers and the fans in the Arena Corinthians.
The Dutch nearly got a goal for themselves in the 90 minute, when Arjen Robben broke through the Argentina defense and ran into the heart of the penalty box. Right when the Bayer Munich forward took the shot that seemed destined to hit the back of the net, Argentinean defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano was there with the game saving slide tackle and stopped the goal.
In extra time the Dutch ran at the Argentinean’s defense, but no real threatening chances came from it. As for Argentina substitute forward Rodrigo Palacio missed a clear chance to win the game at the 115 minute, but instead he lost concentration in front of the net, and he would weakly head the ball towards the Dutch goalie Jasper Cillessen as he easily caught the ball.
After that miss, a 120 scoreless minutes were over and now it was time for the penalties. This was the Dutch second straight game of reaching the penalties, but for the South Americans this was their first time going to penalties in this World Cup.
However, right from the start the Orange Machine chance of going to their second straight World Cup final took a huge hit, when defender Ron Vlaar poorly kicked the ball towards the middle of the net, and Romero was there to stop it and keep the game 0-0 for a few more seconds.
Lionel Messi stepped up to take the first penalty for La Albiceleste, the former FIFA Ballon d’Or winner made no mistake and hammered the ball to the left hand corner of the net, to give Argentina a 1-0 lead after one round of penalties. Arjen Robben was up next for the Netherlands, he needed to score to level the game. The 30-year-old forward, who is most likely playing in his final World Cup stepped up and blasted the ball into the bottom right hand corner to tie the match up at 1-1.
Now Argentina’s turn, and defender Ezequiel Garay stepped up and did not mess around as he blasted the ball into the roof of the net and gave Argentina the 2-1 lead. Now it was up to Wesley Sneijder to tie the game up for the Netherlands, but instead he took a high slow shot to the left hand corner, and Romero was there to stop it, and kept Argentina 2-1.
La Albiceleste had a great chance to go up two goals at the end of the third round of the penalties, and with only two more needed to decided a victor. Sergio Agüero was stepping up to take the penalty that would put the Dutch at an early checkmate. Just coming back from an injury, the Manchester City forward did not show any rust, as he blasted the ball to the bottom left hand corner. Cillessen was able to get a hand on the ball, but Agüero put to much power on the shot and the Argentinians were now up 3-1.
Now it was score or lose the game for the Orange Machine, if veteran midfielder Dirk Kuyt missed his next penalty the game would be over for the Dutch. The 33-year-old veteran took a long run to the ball, and blasted the ball to the bottom right hand corner of the net, to give the Netherlands a prayer at 3-2.
Now the pressure was on Cillessen to stop Maxi Rodríguez, if he didn’t Argentina would go to the finals and it would be the end of the road for the Dutch. However, the experienced crafty Argentinean midfielder dealing with the same pressure stepped up and blasted the ball down the middle of the goal.
The 25-year-old goalie made contact with the ball, and appeared to have done enough to stop the shot, but the ball would ding of the left post and drop into the net and gave Argentina the 4-2 victory, and a ticket to the World Cup final against Germany on Sunday, July 13 at the Estádio Maracanã.
“We never gave up on winning tonight and my players gave everything – every last drop of sweat,” Argentina Coach Alejandro Sabella told FIFA.com after the emotional penalty victory. “Although we have one day less to recover and we’ve played 30 more minutes tonight, we’ll approach the game [The final] with hard-work and humility. But we believe that we can win.”
As for the Dutch, they fell shot of going to their second straight World Cup final. However, now they will be competing in the third place match against the host nation Brazil on Saturday, July 12 at the Estádio Nacional.
Highlights to this match can be seen on this link http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=intl:1942555, video provided by ESPN FC.