Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
It may not have been the prettiest campaign, but Argentina won’t care. They’re headed to the World Cup final.
Argentina were locked in a scoreless draw with the Netherlands for 120 minutes on Wednesday evening at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, as neither team was able to penetrate the opponent’s resilient defense.
With the match headed to penalty kicks, Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero proved to be the difference, saving two Dutch penalty kicks before Maxi Rodriguez scored the decisive fourth penalty kick to send Argentina to the World Cup final.
In a match that was nothing like Tuesday night’s 7-1 Brazilian capitulation, both Argentina and the Netherlands neutralized the other nation’s top player as the rain poured down in Southeast Brazil. In the first half, Arjen Robben was held to just a handful of touches, as Argentina controlled the play with strong performances from Javier Mascherano and Enzo Perez in midfield.
Mascherano actually had a scary moment in the 28th minute after smashing heads with Netherlands midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, looking a bit dazed and needing a few minutes of treatment.
Argentina’s best moment of the first half came in the 15th minute, after Netherlands defender Ron Vlaar was whistled for a strong challenge on Perez just outside the box. Messi took the Argentina free kick and curled it towards the far post but Netherlands goalkeeper Jesper Cillissen watched it the whole way.
In the second half, the Dutch picked up the intensity in addition to bringing on Daryl Janmaat, allowing both he and Dirk Kuyt to roam forward down the wings. Robben, Robin Van Persie, and Wesley Sneijder combined well in midfield but never found the right touch inside the box to really threaten Argentina. Mascherano worked very hard to block the passing lanes and stop Sneijder and Robben from threatening in the middle.
Into the extra time periods after a scoreless 90 minutes, Netherlands manager Louis Van Gaal was forced to take off forward Robin Van Persie and send in Klaas-Jan Huntelaar as the Dutch’s final substitution, ending the chance for the Dutch to use Tim Krul in case of penalty kicks.
Robben had a couple of chances to score on Argentina in the extra time period but failed to pull the trigger on his strikes early enough, allowing the Argentine defenders to get into position.
Heading into penalty kicks, the Netherlands went first and sent centerback Ron Vlaar to take the first kick. Though he had a masterful game marking Messi and Gonzalo Higuain, Vlaar scuffed his penalty kick and Romero made a key save.
Romero came up huge again with Sneijder up to take his spot kick, diving to his right to make a brilliant save. Argentina took four penalty kicks and hit all four, beginning with Messi, Ezequiel Garay, Sergio Aguero, and ending with substitute Maxi Rodriguez, who finished to send the Argentine fans into tears of joy.
In my opinion the trick used by the Netherlands coach in quarterfinals against Costa Rica, was more beneficial for them if they sent Krul against Argentina in the penalty shootout.
I hope Argentina drops the grind it out, win 1-0 style typical of South America and adopts the creative and passionate style one has come to expect from the Teutonic game.
Hah, I know. When did this happen? France and Germany have creative attacking mids. Brazil/Argentina none. Well okay not really but Oscar wasn’t exactly lighting it up.
look at the Brazilian forwards too…yikes.
The substitution to bring Krul in for the Costa Rica game seems more obvious now and not simply a “clever” move.
Ya, weak hands tonight.
Feel very bad for Holland. You look at the world class players like Robben, Van Persie and Sneider and realize this is probably there last World Cup. Holland is obviously known as the best team never to have win the World Cup and the streak continues. They put in such a great effort, especially Robben, however as Donovan said “Soccer is a very cruel sport.”
agree, but they should of tried to actually play and challenge argentina. instead they didn’t press they dropped back everytime argentina got the ball. I know their game is to counter but they barely even did that. holland have great players, but i’m not sure they play to their full potential. at the end they got as much as they put in.
Agreed. It appeared to me that teams who pressed high in this tournament had great success. (See Netherlands vs Spain and Germany vs. Brazil). I’m interested to hear any opinions on this.
don’t forget Chile too, they are great at it. and Costa Rica squeezed the middle third with their backline as well as any team in Brazil
It’s hard to feel TOO bad for Robben, since he has a second career ahead of him on the Olympic 10m platform. Can you imagine the things he can pull off when he’s got a whole ten meters with which to perform his dives? The mind boggles.
You’re right, though, without those guys the Dutch look very ordinary.
I think the technical term for the end result of his 10m dives would be “too splashy”. Too many points off for splashy dives, based on my diving training knowledge.
Louis van Gaal wins the “Golden Pocket Protector” award for overrated, cutesy-poo substitutions, which seems to have been his goal for the tournament. Managed to get get his final unused outfield player onto the field, bringing his total, of “players used” in the tournament to 22. You can go ahead and bet the farm he will play his third keeper in the 3rd place game, which will make this Dutch side the response to a trivia question for decades to come.
Of course, nobody will remember that he took off his best penalty taker (yes van Persie was gassed, but in a game as devoid of chances at this, does it really matter?) and put on a totally worthless Feyenoord midfielder… (where was Ian Darke to follow up his ham-fisted “Krul” pun with Mr. “Clasie”?”). Instead, the otherwise excellent Vlaar will be remembered for taking a forgettable and easily saved penalty.
And did not bring on Depay… the most likely off subs to create something completely on his own.
Just realized I was harsh on our pal Ian Darke. The “Krul” pun was the work of Derek Rae.
Why is no one talking about the terrible offside call on the Argentinian goal in the second half. This game should have ended 1-0 Argentina in regulation.
Didn’t that hit side netting?
Nope. Legit goal.
Watch the replay. Assuming it’s the Higuain chance in the 75th minute, it most definitely hit side netting.
It did the side netting. It looked in at first but it was a little wide
Lol… seriously people….side netting….
Man I wanted a Holland and Germany final.
I wanted that, too, but only because what I really want is to see Brazil and Argentina play.
Umlaut, they’ve played about 95 times. not sure 1 more game will matter much, specially when nothing is on the line.
Not much to say other than I almost fell asleep during the game.
I would hate to see what happens when you watch the Dynamo.
true, haha, +1
That’s not boring… That’s painful. Big difference.