Last-minute substitute keeper Krul saves Netherlands in penalty shootout

Salvador (Brazil) (IANS): Substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul produced two decisive saves in the penalty shootout to lift Netherlands 4-3 over Costa Rica after a scoreless 120-minute play in the last quarterfinal match of 2014 World Cup here on Saturday.

The 26-year-old keeper from English Premier League club Newcastle United was brought onto the pitch in the last minute of the extra time. He blocked the second and fifth round shots from Costa Rica’s skipper Bryan Ruiz as well as defender Michael Umana while his teammates kept a perfect four-on-four record to seal the hard-fought victory, reports Xinhua.

The Netherlands will face Argentina, who edged Belgium 1-0 in Brasilia Saturday, in the semifinal in Sao Paulo Wednesday. The other semifinal match will be between the hosts Brazil and Germany.

Before Krul came onto the pitch, it was the Ticos’ goalkeeper Keylor Navas who had stolen the spotlight as his seven impressive saves helped to maintain a clean sheet for the Ticos.

The Netherlands started the match aggressively with Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben as well as PSV’s promising star Memphis Depay leading the attacking line. Meanwhile, Costa Rica paid much attention on their defence.

Neither side managed to complete a shot until the 21st minute. Depay’s deceptive reverse pass following a fast break found an unguarded Van Persie in the area. But the Man United striker’s shot was blocked by Navas. And Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder’s follow-up was also collected by the Levante goalie.

Eight minutes later, Navas denied another short-range effort from Depay after Van Persie found space between the Ticos midfield and defence and fed in a low pass to meet in the box.

Costa Rica’s first and only shooting chance in the first half came in the 34th minute. After a long free-kick was sent into the box, midfielder Celso Borges tried to threaten Dutch keeper Jasper Cillessen with an overhead shot but found his effort cleared away.

Robben ran at the defence of Costa Rica again in the 37th minute and was tackled down by Junior Diaz, who got a booking for the careless tackle. Sneijder’s dipping free-kick shot curled towards the up-left corner of the goal but a flying Navas denied the effort with his right hand.

Throughout the first half, the in-form Navas made four saves.

The rhythm of the match was not changed much after the interval. The Dutch side enjoyed the majority of the play trying to break the deadlock while the Ticos were kept busy defending while waiting for chances patiently through counter-attacks and set pieces. And Navas made two more saves.

The Netherlands were awarded a free-kick from the right flank in the 52nd minute. Robben hit a low pass towards the edge of the box before Sneijder’s one-touch effort went high.

In the 61st minute, Costa Rica found their second chance of shot in the match as Christian Bolanos’ long range free-kick shot went off beyond the bar. And the Tico’s central guard Giancario Gonzalez’s header from the far post also went high after four minutes.

In the 82nd minutes, Sneijder curled another fine free-kick from the edge of the area. The shot managed to beat Navas but was denied by the near post. Two minutes later Van Persie broke into the Costa Rica area and snapped a right-footed attempt which was again saved by Navas.

The Netherlands could have finished the match in regular time, but Van Persie’s shot from the far post hit Costa Rican midfielder Yeltsin Tejeda, who was standing on the line, and looped up onto the bar before the Ticos cleared it to safety.

And Navas was still on-fire in the extra time. Robben’s corner in the 94th minute was received by Ron Vlaar, whose diving header bounced in front of Navas before he palmed it away past the post.

Defending for most of the match, Costa Rica launched an attacking surge in the final five minutes. Second half substitute Marco Urena broke through into the Dutch area but the shot was blocked by Cillessen, which was his only save in the match.

And the Dutch side responded quickly. Sneijder’s wonderful right-footed curling effort one minute before the final whistle once again was denied by the woodwork, which was the second time for Sneijder and third time for the unlucky Netherlands.

The Dutch side was without their defensive midfielder Nigel De Jong who sustained a tear in his groin muscle during Netherlands’ 2-1 comeback win over Mexico and could be sitting out for the entire World Cup.

Costa Rica’s first choice center defender Oscar Duarte was suspended for receiving two yellow cards in the round of 16 clash against Greece.

Reserve defender Roy Miller, who played in the Ticos’ goalless draw with England, injured his foot while training and had to be benched. Johnny Acosta earned the opportunity to start for the most stunning dark horse in Brazil World Cup so far.