Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal placed goalkeeper Tim Krul in net after the whistle blew in extra time, believing the exuberant Newcastle United star could shut Costa Rica down in the deciding penalty shootout.
Krul talked trash, stalked the line and wound up blocking two penalties as the Netherlands claimed a 4-3 shootout victory in Saturday’s World Cup quarterfinal at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil.
For 120 minutes Costa Rica’s backline and keeper Keylor Navas held the Netherlands attack scoreless. Costa Rica could have extended their unprecedented dream run, having never progressed further than the Round of 16 in their three previous Cup appearances. The Ticos conceded eight shots on goal, and only registered one for themselves throughout the match, relying on their stellar defense to carry them into the shootout.
Despite Navas’s overall brilliance against the Dutch and in the tournament, the Netherlands would convert all four of the penalty attempts and Krul blocked attempts by Ticos forward Bryan Ruiz and defender Michael Umana.
It was the third match to be decided by penalties during the knockout stage, and the second straight for Costa Rica after they eliminated Greece in the Round of 16.
The Netherlands will next face Argentina, who held off Belgium 1-0 earlier in the day, in the semifinals. Van Gaal's side now have the opportunity to make the final in consecutive Cups for the first time since 1978.
Expert clearances from Ticos defenders Giancarlo Gonzalez, Johnny Acosta and Michael Umana, and an incredible block at the goal line by Yeltsin Tejada in the 84th minute all helped Navas to earn his third clean sheet in the tournament.
The Dutch maintained an overwhelming possession advantage throughout the match, as high as 70-30 at one point, but couldn’t attain quality chances until the final 10 minutes of regulation.
Navas prevented most of the Netherlands opportunities by totaling eight saves and thwarting 11 cornerkick attempts. Van Gaal’s squad was also a bit too aggressive on the attack, picking up 13 offside flags.
Midfielder Yeltsin Tejeda’s block in net of Robin van Persie’s close range shot in the added time saved the Ticos and assured another 30 minutes. It was a second excellent chance for van Persie, after he completely missed a well-timed cross in front of the net and seemed more inclined to draw a penalty than complete the play with a goal in the 84th.
Forward Wesley Sneijder had his two best attempts clank off the crossbar, one that Navas likely could have got a mitt on, and another in the 82nd minute that hit the left post.