Costa Ricans, Dutch Advance To Quarterfinal
Rio De Janeiro (ap) — Regulation time doesn’t seem to mean much at this stage, judging by the way Netherlands, Costa Rica and Brazil have advanced through the first of the World Cup knockout rounds.
The Dutch needed a penalty deep in stoppage time to seal a 2-1 comeback win over Mexico and advance to a match against a Costa Rica lineup that beat Greece on penalties later Sunday to reach the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time. The Costa Ricans had to play for almost an hour with 10 men, and just had the legs to win 5-3 on penalties after the match finished level at 1-1 after extra time.
That was the second penalty shootout of the weekend, following Brazil’s narrow win over Chile on Saturday.
In oppressive heat at Fortaleza, a Dutch attack that scored five goals against 2010 champion Spain in its opening game was on the verge of a second-round exit until finding a way past Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa in the 88th minute.
Once they did, the turnaround happened quickly. Wesley Sneijder’s bullet-like strike canceled out Giovani Dos Santos’ 48th-minute opener for Mexico. Klaas Jan Huntelaar sealed the win with a calmly-taken penalty late in stoppage time after Mexico captain Rafael Marquez took down Robben in the area.
The veteran Dutch forward had been dangerous in attack but all his efforts had been fruitless, as had his frequent tumbles and appeals for penalties and free kicks.
“Unbelievable,” Robben said. “Five minutes from full time, we were out.”
It was unbelievable for Mexico coach Miguel Herrera, too. The effusive coach was mystified that the penalty was awarded by referee Pedro Proenca, disputing the contact that resulted in Robben sprawling on the pitch.
“Today it was the man with the whistle who eliminated us from the World Cup,” Herrera said. “We ended up losing because he whistled a penalty that did not exist.”
The Costa Ricans, rank outsiders at the start of the tournament, were fluid in attack as they topped a group containing former champions Italy, Uruguay and England to advance to the knockout stage, but then had to struggle against Greece at Recife.
Costa Rica took an early second-half lead through captain Bryan Ruiz but, after being reduced to 10 men when Oscar Duarte was sent off for his second booking in the 66th minute, conceded an injury-time equalizer to Sokratis Papastathopoulos that sent the match into extra time at 1-1.
The Costa Ricans appeared on the verge of exhaustion as Greece relentlessly pressed forward.
Greece, which sealed its place in the knockout stages for the first time with a late penalty winner against Ivory Coast, couldn’t find the winner in extra time despite a numerical advantage.
Given a few moments to recover their breath, the Costa Ricans were perfect in the shoot out, with Michael Umana scoring the decisive penalty.
“To the entire people in Costa Rica, those at home and out on the streets, this is for you,” Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto said. “This is a people that love football and they deserve it. ... We will continue fighting. We will go on. We see beautiful things.”