FOOTBALL NEWS

10/07/2014 11:20, Report by Mark Froggatt
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Van Gaal accepts defeat with grace

Louis van Gaal remained dignified in defeat on Wednesday night after his Netherlands side were cruelly beaten on penalties by Argentina in Sao Paulo.

Holland breezed through the group stages and many had tipped them to go all the way after disposing of Mexico and Costa Rica in the knockout rounds. Although a place in the final was denied by the lottery of the shootout, van Gaal is happy with his side’s progress.

"We played a fantastic tournament," the new United boss said. "No-one had expected us to make it through to the next phase, so as group winners we moved on.

"After that, we defeated Mexico - a team who are not easy to beat and are solid in terms of their organisation. Argentina are a top country with top players. We didn't lose against them, but the penalties are down to luck."

Netherlands were favourites to win the shoot-out, given the Oranje did not miss from 12 yards in their quarter-final success against Costa Rica. But van Gaal struggled to find enough players to take the spot-kicks in Sao Paulo, which surprised him greatly.

"It should give you confidence; we took those penalties in an incredible way against Costa Rica," the Dutchman told reporters. "But the issue is you need to score the first one and I asked two players to take the first ball before ending up with Ron Vlaar.

"I thought he was the best player on the pitch so should have a lot of confidence," van Gaal continued. "It just goes to show it is not easy scoring in a penalty shoot-out. It's the most terrible scenario, to lose on penalties. At the very least we were equal with them, if not the better team. It's

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