World Cup 2014: Netherlands v Costa Rica

NED 0 – 0 CRC (4-3 pens): If Carlsberg did extra time then this is probably as good as it gets. After a largely forgettable ninety minutes, the Netherlands and Costa Rica put on a spectacle of World Cup football in an enthralling half an hour of end to end thrills and spills. A special mention must go to heroic Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas who put on the greatest display he will ever muster in the gruelling heat of Salvador. The dogged, gritty Costa Ricans kept the Dutch at bay time and time again with some last gasp defending and sensational blocking. They had their chances too and could have snatched the win in extra time when Bolanos had his effort brilliantly saved by Cliessens. The Dutch hit the woodwork numerous times and countless goalmouth scrambles consistently kept the crowd in nervous suspense. The game went to penalties and the shrewdest of moves from Van Gaal won the game for the Dutch. With seconds to go he substituted Cliessens for Krul who saved two Costa Rican penalties to send the Dutch through. It was the cruelest of ways to go out of the tournament for Costa Rica but their togetherness and team unity at the end was inspiring. They have written themselves into World Cup folklore – unbeaten in normal time and every one of them heroes. Fantastic Costa Rica, thank you for a wonderful World Cup. The Dutch survive again…just. Van Gaal will be relieved but also confident of winning the tournament with an average Argentina standing between them and the final. Breathtaking, phenomenal, amazing…Brazil 2014!

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