Rio de Janeiro, June 30 IANS | 2 months ago

Both the Netherlands and 10-men Costa Rica reached the World Cup quarterfinals in a way that stunned the football world.


The Netherlands, the three-time runners-up, fought back from the brink of elimination to beat Mexico 2-1 in Fortalezar while Costa Rica booked a berth in the last eight for the first time by upsetting former European champions Greece in a tense penalty shootout in Recife, reports Xinhua.

After a goalless first half, Dos Santos put Mexico ahead in the 48th minute by firing off a half-volley from the top of the area to the bottom corner past a diving Jasper Cillessen.

Netherlands broke Mexican hearts in the final moments after Wesley Sneijder's super strike in the 88th minute and Klaas van Huntelaar's calmly finished penalty four minutes into the injury time.

Arjen Robben was fouled inside the box by Mexican captain Rafael Marquez. A penalty was awarded and Huntelaar scored from the spot and Ochoa dived the opposite way.

Arjen Robben played a key role in the Dutch victory besides earning the decisive penalty. His fast-pace breakthroughs were the main threat to the Mexican backline.

But Mexico coach Miguel Herrera strongly criticised the officiating for Mexico's defeat. He described Robben as a "cheat".

"We ended up losing because he whistled a penalty that did not exist. Robben dived three times. The referee should have cautioned him," he noted.

"The referee should have gone back and cautioned the guy that tried to cheat and then this would not happen again because we would be saying that if the referee is fair," Herrera said.

"Then their second goal wouldn't exist and Robben would have been expelled or suspended with a second yellow card. But if you do nothing the first time then the player knows that the referee won't kick you out, he won't caution you, not say anything."

Costa Rica, known as the Ticos, were 5 on 5 in penalty kick while Greek veteran striker Theofanis Gekas's fourth round effort was denied by keeper Keilor Navas.

The first half was dull and slow and full of turnovers with lackluster performance from both sides. The Arena Pemambuco was surrounded by boos from the stands, when the referee Benjamin Willianms blew the whistle to end the first half. But the second was filled with drama.

The Ticos skipper Bryan Ruiz met a low cross from Christian Bolanos at the edge of the box in the 52nd minute. The 28-year-old, who was on loan in PSV Eindhoven from English Championship club Fulham, failed to shoot with his full strength but the ball simply dribbled into the side netting with Greek keeper Orestis Karnezis misjudging the trajectory of the ball and not making a save.

The Ticos were reduced to ten men in the 66th minute. Defender Oscar Duarte received his second booking of the match after a careless tackle on Cholevas.

Costa Rica were under great pressure for the following 30 minutes. And the Greeks managed to score in injury time again.

Central defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, who stayed up front after a late run into the box, nodded down a lofted ball to second half substitute Gekas. The latter's powerful shot was denied by Navas but Papastathopoulos followed up and lashed home the rebounded ball.

The Greeks could have finished the match in regular time but Konstantinos Mitroglou's header from close range was palmed away by Navas.

After the 90-minute of play ended at 1-1, neither team managed to score again in extra time and had to decide the match through penalty kick. The 26-year-old Mitroglou missed another chance in the dying minutes of the extra time as his close range snap shot was again stopped by Navas.

Costa Rica will face the Netherlands for a semifinal berth Saturday.

(Posted on 30-06-2014)


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