By CARL SETTERLUND
The inspired goalkeeping of Costa Rican goalie Keylor Navas kept the Netherlands scoreless through 120 minutes, but the 27-year-old Levante keeper couldn’t keep one of the World Cup’s most potent offenses silent in penalty kicks, as Los Ticos fell 0-0 (4-3) at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador.
The Dutch got penalty kick goals from Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder before Dirk Kuyt buried the clincher into the bottom right corner to send the Netherlands to a second straight World Cup semifinal.
Dutch goalie Jasper Cillessen was tested with just one shot on target during the run of play, but despite the shutout bid, manager Louis van Gaal replaced him with Tim Krul for the decisive penalty kicks, saving attempts by Bryan Ruiz and then Marcos Ureña to clinch the victory.
Krul dove in the right direction, saving Ureña’s penalty at the right post to seal the result.
Celso Borges, Giancarlo Gonzalez and Christian Bolaños had converted pentalie kicks for Los Ticos, but it wasn’t enough to send the tournament Cinderella into the semifinals.
The Netherlands moves on to play in a semifinal against Lionel Messi’s Argentina at Arena Corinthians in São Paulo at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
The Dutch move one step closer to avenging last cycle’s finish, a 1-0 loss to Spain in overtime in the World Cup final. The Netherlands has never won the World
Costa Rica concluded it’s best ever tournament run. Los Ticos have made four World Cups total, but this was their first ever appearance in the quarterfinals.
The Costa Ricans were also the last team remaining from the CONCACAF region as both the United States and Mexico fell in the Round of 16 and Honduras bowed out in the Group Stage.
The Dutch managed 20 shots overall, getting four each from Van Persie, Robben and Sneijder, including four of the Netherlands’ eight shots on target from Van Persie.
Costa Rica was only able to muster one attempt on frame, coming from Ureña in the 117th minute.
Navas (7 saves) was challenged early, saving shots on target by Van Persie and Sneijder in the 21st and 22nd minutes. The Costa Rican keeper was also called to action in the 39th minute, diving to deny a Sneijder free kick try aimed at the upper left part of goal.
Sneijder served it into Van Persie in the 88th minute for what could have been the winner, but the Manchester United target man couldn’t get on the other end to send it home.
The Costa Ricans averted disaster in the third minute of second half stoppage time as Van Persie delivered a low shot and Yeltsin Tejeda deflected the shot up off the crossbar and away.
The next Dutch chance came in the 119th minute when Sneijder delivered it off the crossbar in the 119th minute, with the near-miss all but sealing that the game would go to PKs.