The Dutch dominated the match from the very second the game started, but the stingy Ticos defense and superb goalie Keylor Navas seven saves brought the heavy favorites to the penalty stages, as they would end up winning 4-3.
Byline: Jorge Belon, Editor in Chief
SALVADOR– Substitute goalie Tim Krul came into the match for the sole purpose to stop Costa Rica in the penalties, and he made two saves in the penalty stages to end the Cinderella story of the Ticos on Saturday, and continue the Orange Machine dream of winning the World Cup.
“We told Tim that he would be the better goalkeeper for a penalty shoot-out because he’s taller,” Netherlands Coach Louis Van Gaal told FIFA.com. “We didn’t say anything to Cillessen because we didn’t want to interfere with his preparations or his concentration. However, there is no question whatsoever that Cillessen will be in the starting line-up again for the next match. It was just that in this case we felt Krul was the better option and he proved us right. He went the right way on every penalty.”
In dying moments of the last period of over time, Van Gaal, made a change that will be discussed about for many years to come. He replaced his starting goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, who had not been scored on and just made a huge save a few minute before being subbed out at the 121 minute.
The 6’5 Krul came in to stop the Ticos in penalties; the previous game Costa Rica went five for five against Greece in penalties and the Dutch coach did not want that to happen again. The first person Krul would face in penalties, was midfielder Celso Borges. However, Borges well place penalty kick at the bottom right hand corner of the net would pass the 6’5 goalie and give the Ticos a 1-0 lead.
The Dutch were up next and Robin van Persie was the taker. He had missed a few chances in regulation time, but Navas magic was running dry as the Manchester United forward buried his penalty at the bottom right hand corner of the net to tie the match.
The game was leveled again after two penalties, and the Ticos were up next and the Captain Bryan Ruiz was stepping to take the PK. The confident captain looked tired as he prepared himself to take the penalty. His fatigue of playing two games in a row that reached the penalties would catch up, as his poorly struck the ball down the middle, and the 6’5 back up goalie stopped it to keep the score 1-1 and set up a chance for the Dutch to take the lead.
Arjen Robben was up next for Holland, and the Bayer Munich attacking player would blast the ball high to the left hand corner of the net. Navas guessed right but the perfectly place shot would give the Dutch a 2-1 lead.
The Ticos now found themselves in a bad situation being down goal and with only three penalties left, they could not offered to miss another penalty, but Navas again was placed the huge burden of stopping a penalty to give the Ticos a chance.
Before Navas could get another chance of making a save, Giancarlo Gonzalez had to make his penalty first. The man who was celebrating his 40 cap for his nation the same day, stepped up and ignored Krul attempting to get in his head by stepping in front of him and talking to Gonzalez as he prepared to take the penalty.
Gonzalez would ignore everything him, and place the ball at the top right hand corner of the net, beating Krul and tying the match at 2-2. Now the Dutch had the chance to recapture the lead with Wesley Sneijder stepping up. Showing a face of pure determination, the Dutchman blasted the ball to the left hand corner giving Holland a 3-2 lead, after three rounds.
Costa Rica was up again and the pressure for Cristian Bolaños to make it was obvious on his face, as he waited for the referee approval to take the penalty. With calm walk to the ball Bolaños blasted the ball to the upper left hand corner on the net to tie the game at 3-3. Now Navas needed replicate to his performance against Greece in the penalties as he made two saves to get Costa Rica into the quarterfinals.
The 33-year-old veteran midfielder Dirk Kuyt was up for the Netherlands. He wasted no time and blasted the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the net, Navas guess right and was a finger tip away from deflecting the shot, but Kuyt put too match pace on the ball as it sailed pass Navas to give the Dutch a 4-3 lead.
Now Ticos defender Michael Umaña was up and he had to make it. If he missed the penalty Holland would win the game and Costa Rica would be eliminated. The 31-year-old defender looked nervous as he starred towards Krul, who seemed to be making the goal smaller with his 6’5 imposing frame.
Umaña took the shot, the low shot seemed to be entering the back of the net, but Krul long arms covered the angle and his hand stopped the goal and gave Holland the 4-3 victory. The controversial decision had worked out and Krul was the hero as he guided Holland to the semifinals.
“It’s surreal, I can’t describe it at the moment,” Krul told FIFA.com after winning the game for the Dutch. “Seeing the boys run towards me: I’ve seen that so many times on TV after goalkeepers save penalties and win the game. That it’s me tonight in a World Cup quarter-final is something surreal and I don’t think it’ll sink in for a couple of days.”
The heartbreaking victory for the Ticos was tough to swallow for the Central American nation, however, the Dutch in regulation and over time were in control of the game. The Netherlands took 20 shots in the match, and the Ticos got their first shot on target in the second period of over time. By the time penalties came the Ticos were exhausted of chasing after the shadows of the Dutch players for 120 minute.
In result the heavy legs of the Costa Rican players would lose and their dream run in the 2014 World Cup run has been ended by the Dutch. As for the Netherlands, they will be facing Argentina in the semifinals on Wednesday, July 9 at São Paulo.
Highlights to this match can be seen on this link http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=intl:1934814, video provided by ESPN FC.