Kingsport Times News Sunday, December 21, 2014

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Update: Netherlands joins Argentina in World Cup semis

July 5th, 2014 2:47 pm by Associated Press

Update: Netherlands joins Argentina in World Cup semis

Netherlands goalkeeper Tim Krul, center left, celebrates after making the final save in a penalty shootout against Costa Rica during their World Cup quarterfinal match Saturday the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil. (AP Photo)

SALVADOR, Brazil — Tim Krul came on as a substitute in the final minute of extra time and then saved two penalties in a 4-3 shootout victory over Costa Rica on Saturday, giving the Netherlands a spot in the World Cup semifinals.

Krul saved spot kicks from Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana after the match had finished 0-0.

"We had a lot of chances but it didn't go in," Krul said on Dutch television. "Then I come in, stop two penalties and here we are."

In another stroke of tactical genius at this year's World Cup, Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal pulled Jasper Cillessen moments after the Ajax goalkeeper had saved a shot from Marcos Urena in extra time.

"The trick is good," said Krul, who plays for Newcastle. "A lot of preparation went into it."

The Dutch team will next face Argentina in the semifinals on Wednesday in Sao Paulo.

Krul looked super confident during the shootout at the Arena Fonte Nova, saving the second and fifth penalties by diving to his left and sticking out his hand.

When Krul stopped Ruiz's penalty, Cillessen, watching from the sideline, punched the air in celebration.

When he saved the second to win the match, Cillessen outsprinted the rest of the bench to get to Krul, who was already being mobbed by jubilant teammates who had watched from the halfway line.

Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas had kept his team in the match with a string of great saves in the first half and again in extra time. When Wesley Sneijder twice beat him late in regulation and again in the second half of extra time, the woodwork made the stop.

Sneijder hit the post with a free kick in the 80th minute and sent a curling shot over Navas and off the crossbar before the penalty shootout.

At the end, however, Navas could not stop any of the four Dutch penalties as veterans Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt all scored.

Argentina 1, Belgium 0

BRASILIA, Brazil — Gonzalo Higuain's first goal of this World Cup sent Argentina into the semifinals with a win over a disappointing Belgium.

Argentina, which hadn't advanced past the World Cup quarterfinals since 1990, put in its best performance so far in the tournament, controlling the match after Higuain's eighth minute goal.

The Napoli striker fired home Angel Di Maria's deflected pass just inside the area, beating Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with a low shot to the far corner of the net.

Higuain came close to making it 2-0 in the second half when his shot smashed into the crossbar. Lionel Messi missed a chance to score his fifth goal of the tournament in stoppage time when Courtois stopped his shot.

Belgium lacked the creativity to find a way past Argentina's defensive line, and created few clear chances apart from a pair of headers by Kevin Mirallas and Marouane Fellaini.

Argentina was knocked out in the quarterfinals in the previous two World Cups, both times by Germany. The last time it reached the semifinal stage was 24 years ago in Italy, when Diego Maradona led the team to the final, which it lost 1-0 to West Germany.

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