World Cup Blog: Dutch drama boosts Euros
08:31 30 June 2014
Second round: Holland 2 Mexico 1; Costa Rica 1 Greece 1 (5-3 pens)
Holland kept hopes of a maiden World Cup title alive with a last-gasp win over Mexico, giving Europe their first quarter-finalist of the 2014 tournament.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar kept his nerve to convert an injury-time penalty, after more controversy surrounding teammate Arjen Robben, and set up a meeting with outsiders Costa Rica, who came through a shoot-out drama with Greece to reach the last eight for the first time ever.
But the antics of Bayern Munich’s Robben were again one of the main talking points.
Mexico boss Miguel Herrera was far from happy at the way the flying winger went to ground during the match, after seeing his side snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Giovani dos Santos fired the Mexicans ahead – after Brazil and Colombia had won Saturday’s ties – but the Europeans hit back with a wonder goal from Wesley Sneijder in the 88th minute.
Robben then went over in the box following a clumsy challenge from Mexico captain Rafael Marquez and Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca pointed to the spot.
Huntelaar showed nerves of steel, in sweltering heat that had led to FIFA cooling breaks, to send Guillermo Ochoa the wrong way from the spot and the Dutch will now be favourites to see off Costa Rica to seal a semi-final spot.
But the underdogs, who helped eliminate Roy Hodgson’s England, are still having their day.
Fulham’s Bryan Ruiz put the Ticos ahead against Greece in a largely dour tie in Recife, but saw Oscar Duarte dismissed for two bookable offences.
Greece made the extra man count in stoppage time as Sokratis Papastathopoulos levelled and almost snatched a stunning late winner when Kostas Mitroglou’s header was somehow kept out by Keylor Navas.
The Costa Rican keeper produced more heroics in extra time and palmed away a penalty from Gekas during the shootout as his side converted all five of their spot-kicks.
But surely the minnows cannot upset the Dutch?
*France meet Nigeria in today’s 5pm kick-off, before Germany take on Algeria at 9pm.
See our blog of the latest action on this website tomorrow morning.