Robin van Persie helped Louis van Gaal's Netherlands claim a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over a dogged Costa Rica side and book a World Cup semi-final tie against Argentina.
After a goalless 120 minutes, the game went to spot-kicks with Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul the hero after he had been brought on by van Gaal especially for the shoot-out. Van Persie successfully converted Holland’s first penalty with Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt following suit, while Krul saved twice to give the Netherlands a 4-3 win.
As expected the Dutch had been the dominant force in the opening period of the game, but the Costa Rica backline defended stoutly, none more so than goalkeeper Keylor Navas who pulled off three excellent stops from van Persie, Memphis Depay and Sneijder across the course of the half.
His first save came on 21 minutes when Kuyt found Depay on the edge of the area. He slipped the ball to van Persie but his shot was well blocked by Navas, who was also on hand to gobble up the follow-up effort from Sneijder. Van Persie returned the favour to Depay eight minutes later after Bryan Ruiz had given away possession in midfield, but Navas was on hand to save Depay’s shot with his feet.
Costa Rica certainly didn’t look overawed by the occasion and while there was pressure to soak up defensively they offered a decent attacking threat from set-pieces. Case in point was Christian Bolanos’s 34-minute free-kick which was headed back into the danger area by Celso Borges to Johnny Acosta who attempted a spectacular overhead kick from three yards out. While he wasn’t able to make as good a contact as he would have liked, his effort still had to be