RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) —
Regulation time doesn't seem to mean much at this stage, judging by the
way Netherlands, Costa Rica and Brazil have advanced through the first
of the World Cup knockout rounds.
The Dutch needed a penalty deep
in stoppage time to seal a 2-1 comeback win over Mexico and advance to a
match against a Costa Rica lineup that beat Greece on penalties later
Sunday to reach the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time. The
Costa Ricans had to play for almost an hour with 10 men, and just had
the legs to win 5-3 on penalties after the match finished level at 1-1
after extra time.
That was the second penalty shootout of the weekend, following Brazil's narrow win over Chile on Saturday.
oppressive heat at Fortaleza, a Dutch attack that scored five goals
against 2010 champion Spain in its opening game was on the verge of a
second-round exit until finding a way past Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo
Ochoa in the 88th minute.
Once they did, the turnaround happened
quickly. Wesley Sneijder's bullet-like strike canceled out Giovani Dos
Santos' 48th-minute opener for Mexico. Klaas Jan Huntelaar sealed the
win with a calmly-taken penalty late in stoppage time after Mexico
captain Rafael Marquez took down Robben in the area.
Dutch forward had been dangerous in attack but all his efforts had been
fruitless, as had his frequent tumbles and appeals for penalties and
"Unbelievable," Robben said. "Five minutes from full time, we were out."
was unbelievable for Mexico coach Miguel Herrera, too. The effusive
coach was mystified that the penalty was awarded by referee Pedro
Proenca, disputing the contact that resulted in Robben sprawling on the
"Today it was the man with the whistle who eliminated us
from the World Cup," Herrera said. "We ended up losing because he
whistled a penalty that did not exist.
"I repeat this because
(Robben) dived three times. The referee should have cautioned him. If
that had happened, Robben would have been cautioned or even sent off."
In recent seasons Robben has been trying to shake off his reputation for diving. Against Mexico, he only compounded it.
have to say, in the first half — and right away offer my excuses — I
dived," he told Dutch broadcaster NOS. "I mustn't do that. It was
another stupid action." He wasn't sorry about the injury-time incident
that incensed Mexico and condemned it to its sixth consecutive
second-round loss at World Cups.
With temperatures hitting 32
Celsius (90 Fahrenheit) and in 68 percent humidity, FIFA instituted
cooling breaks 30 minutes into each half in Fortaleza so players could
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal used the second-half
break to make a tactical change, switching from a 5-3-2 system to a more
traditional Dutch 4-4-3, bringing Huntelaar in to replace the tiring
Robin van Persie.
"Yes, we escaped," Van Gaal said. "But we showed
that we could create more chances with 4-3-3, and the players handled
this shift very well."
The Costa Ricans, rank outsiders at the
start of the tournament, were fluid in attack as they topped a group
containing former champions Italy, Uruguay and England to advance to the
knockout stage, but then had to struggle against Greece at Recife.
Rica took an early second-half lead through captain Bryan Ruiz but,
after being reduced to 10 men when Oscar Duarte was sent off for his
second booking in the 66th minute, conceded an injury-time equalizer to
Sokratis Papastathopoulos that sent the match into extra time at 1-1.
The Costa Ricans appeared on the verge of exhaustion as Greece relentlessly pressed forward.
which sealed its place in the knockout stages for the first time with a
late penalty winner against Ivory Coast, couldn't find the winner in
extra time despite a numerical advantage.
Given a few moments to
recover their breath, the Costa Ricans were perfect in the shoot out,
with Michael Umana scoring the decisive penalty.
"To the entire
people in Costa Rica, those at home and out on the streets, this is for
you," Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto said. "This is a people that
love football and they deserve it. ... We will continue fighting. We
will go on. We see beautiful things."