Dutch double sends Netherlands through at Mexico's expense
Monday, 30th June 2014 at 06:27am
Late goals from Wesley Sneijder and Klaas Jan Hunterlaar broke Mexican hearts as the Netherlands through to the last eight at the expense of the Central Americans.
It was cruel on Mexico who had been arguably the better side for much of the game and lead through a Giovanni dos Santos strike three minutes after halftime but a late Sneijder stunner and a Huntelaar penalty in stoppage time was enough to send El Tri spiraling out.
Mexico have never progressed beyond the round of 16 outside of finals staged on home soil and they faced a tough task against a Dutch team who had scored 10 goals in the group stages.
But coach Miguel Herrera has proved himself very tactically adept in the finals so far and it was evident in the opening exchanges as Mexico were the better of the two sides.
El Tri were given some early encouragement thanks to some shaky moments from Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cilleson and looked to test him from long range.
The game was being played under cloudless skies and the Dutch appeared to struggle with the soaring temperatures, which reached such heights the game was stopped for the first ever cooling break in World Cup history.
After the game restarted, Arjen Robben was felled in the box but the referee decided no infringement had taken place.
Neither side could find the breakthrough before halftime but dos Santos broke the deadlock 2 minutes after the restart with a shot from distance.
It was his first international goal in two years and was no less than Mexico deserved.
The goal seemed to shake the Oranje from their reverie and they began to pressure the Mexico goal. Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa rose to prominence after his man-of-the-match display against Brazil and he was once again in sensational form.
The Mexican number one first produced a stunning reaction save to push Stephan de Vrij's flick onto the post before deny Robben at his near post.
There was nothing, however, he could do about Sneijder's striker from the edge of the area in the 88th minute which left him rooted to the spot.
Extra time seemed to be beckoning but Robben had other ideas. Having luckily avoided a booking for a blatant attempt to win a penalty earlier in the second half, the Bayern flyer went down after the slightest contact from Rafael Marquez and won his side a spot kick.
Huntelaar, who had come on as sub for the tiring Robin van Persie, made no mistake to send heartbroken Mexico back home and the Netherlands through to the quarter-finals.
There they will face Costa Rica after they beat Greece 5-3 on penalties after the game finished 1-1 after extra time.
Both sides were looking to reach the last eight of the Fifa World Cup for the first time and Los Ticos looked the most likely to when Bryan Ruiz put them in front seven minutes into the second half.
It was his second goal in Recife, coming nine days after his winner against Italy in Group D.
Greece were handed a lifeline, however, when Oscar Duarte was shown a red card after picking up a second booking.
The Europeans had stumbled into the knock out stages thanks to late goals against the Cote D'Ivoire and they left it late again.
Sokratis Papastathopoulous was the hero as he converted a spilled save by Keylor Navas in stoppage time.
It almost became a Greek tragedy for Costa Rica as Kostas Mitroglou almost headed in a winner but was denied by a Navas fingertip save.
Neither side could find a goal in extra time and nothing could separate the sides in the penalty shootout either until Navas saved Theofanis Gekas' penalty.
Michael Umana slotted home Costa Rica's fifth to make history for los Ticos.