Wednesday - Aug 23, 2017

FIFA World Cup – Argentina and Holland do enough to go through to the FIFA World Cup Semifinals

FIFA World Cup - Argentina and Holland do enough to go through to the FIFA World Cup Semifinals

In the first match of the evening, in the nation’s capital in Brasilia, Argentina did enough to reach their first World Cup semi-final place since 1990 with victory over a hard-working Belgian side.

Gonzalo Higuain broke his World Cup duck by scoring the only goal of the time at the Estadio Nacional, sending in a thunderous strike from the edge of the penalty area in the eighth minute, after a Messi pass to Angel Di Maria, was deflected into his path.

Despite having a disappointing tournament so far, with that Higuain succeeded in matching Lionel Messi’s record of five World Cup goals for Argentina, despite having played in nine games compared to Messi who has taken part in 13 for the national side.

Once again, captain Lionel Messi was the architect of victory, putting on an almost flawless performance. Messi marshalled the Argentinian from a deep lying midfield position, to oversee his country’s fifth consecutive victory in the tournament, with all five of them having been achieved by a single goal.

To the disappointment of the neutrals and, even more so, their travelling support, Belgium failed to live up to their potential, eventually going out of the tournament with something of a whimper.

After the early goal, the match settled down into a static midfield battle with very little happening in the rear attack, with both teams only managing three shots on target each, making for the lowest tally in a World Cup knockout game since the 1990 final between Argentina and West Germany.

Ironically, with Argentina’s victory, the 2014 tournemant marks the first time in World Cup history that both Brazil and Argentina have both appeared in the semifinals.

In the last match of the evening and of the quarterfinal stage, Holland and Costa Rica, despite failing to score in normal time and extra time, produced possibly the most exciting match of the quarterfinals.

The Costa Rican defense was particularly outstanding throughout the 120 minutes, mounting an offside trap that was almost totally effective, catching Robin van Persie in an offside position innumerable times. Any shots that did get through will handle and more than capably by goalkeeper Keylor Navas who put together another solid performance.

Holland’s tireless winger Arjen Robbin put in yet another virtuoso performance coming at the Costa Rican from every conceivable angle and seemingly gaining energy as the match progressed. Midfielder Wesley Snyder put in yet another impressive performance hitting the woodwork twice as a Dutch pressed forward for victory.

Despite the pressure penalty kicks became an ever intending inevitability, and with just seconds of extra time remaining Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal, once again displayed what a brave and shrewd tactician he is by substituting his goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, bringing on Tim Krul in his place.

van Gaal, aware that the Costa Ricans had succeeded in converting all of their five penalties in their eighth round shootout against Greece, took a calculated risk with Krul, which paid of for him after the Newcastle keeper saved from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana to send the Dutch through after they converted all four of their spot-kicks in the coolest of fashion through Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder and Kuyt, to ensure them victory for the first time in a penalty kick shootout in the last five occasions.

The Dutch are now scheduled to take part in an enthralling semi-final against Argentina on Wednesday, a repeat of the classic final of 1978.

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