World Cup Recap: Netherlands vs. Costa Rica

Javier Cortez, Sports Editor

Both teams came into today’s match exceeding the general public’s expectations—the Netherlands were thought to be past their prime but found their way back to a familiar situation in the World Cup quarterfinals, and Costa Rica came in as a tournament surprise winning their group and advancing to the final eighth.

Nevertheless, Netherlands and Costa Rica finished the quarterfinals in style, with a thrilling extra time match that eventually went the Netherlands way 4-3 in a penalty shootout.

For the Dutch it was a game that had many opportunities, but very few capitalized on—with a dominate possession of the ball at 69 percent for the first 90 minutes the attacking front consisting of Memphis Depay, Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben were poised to score.

Somehow that didn’t come to fruition, Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas saved his best game for last as he fearlessly took on the Dutch powerhouse. Navas had six saves in the first 90 minutes and was helped by the Dutch offense, which was called offside nine times in the first 90 minutes.

As time went on it seemed that Costa Rica was content with defending for the majority of the match, Costa Rica had no goals on target in regulation. The tale of the tape was an offensive powerhouse against a brick wall defense.

When the game went to extra time nothing changed—the Dutch controlled possession of the ball and the Costa Rican defense was flawless in its execution. The first 15 minutes finished with minimal action and the dreaded penalty kicks were only 15 minutes away.

The second 15 found Costa Rica pressuring the Dutch defense for the first time in the match, after 105 minutes of stagnant offense Costa Rica seemed to have life. The last three minutes belonged to the Dutch as they retook control of possession and had legitimate chances to finishes the match.

After 120 minutes of play a shootout awaited both teams for a shot in the World Cup semifinals. Costa Rica seemed to have held off the Dutch offense and saw themselves in a familiar situation.

In Costa Rica’s Jun. 29, round of 16 match against Greece they found the back of the net all five times to advance, now that the game was down to penalties it seemed that the Dutch were no longer the favorites.

The Netherlands made a big change going into the shootout, manager Louis van Gaal made a change at goal with the substitution of Jasper Cillessen for Tim Krul. After a clean sheet by Cillessen the change seemed like a big risk, but van Gaal came out as a genius in the end.

Krul made two critical stops and the Dutch advanced to the semis with a 4-3 in the shootout. The Netherlands will now face Argentina for a spot in the World Cup finals for the second consecutive World Cup.


Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]