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Seeking to move forward in their 6th straight appearance in the Round of 16, Mexico’s dream was shattered in the final minutes of play by the Netherlands. Costa Rica and Greece both look for their first ever appearance in the quarterfinal, but it all came down to penalty kicks deciding their fates.
Image Credit: INFphoto.com
Netherlands v Mexico, 2-1
Favorites Netherlands, who made it to the finals in the last World Cup against Spain, couldn’t manage to break through a seemingly impenetrable Mexico defense until it was too late for Mexico’s offense to do anything about it.
With both defenses excelling in their play, teams would go into the locker room at the half goalless, with Mexico’s head held up high, outnumbering their chances on goal to the opposition. Within three minutes of the second half, Giovanni Dos Santos would find the back of the net with a skilled left footed shot through three defenders, moving El Tri to a 1-0 lead.
With the clock ticking away, as CBS Sports noted, the Netherlands in the final eight minutes would go from being sent home to moving on to the quarterfinals. A supreme and textbook strike off a volley from Wesley Sneijder would bring the score level at the 88th. Mexico would play cautiously, trying to hang on to possession until they could strike in the closing minutes. Going in six minutes of stoppage time, with a burst of speed to the box, Oranje’s Arjen Robben would break through, then draw a penalty at the 94th minute. Huntelaar, who had been subbed in for Robin Van Persie, buried the ball past the Mexican goalkeeper, striking the final heartbreaking blow to Mexico’s possible advancement.
Costa Rica v Greece, 1-1, 5-3 (PK)
Between Costa Rica and Greece, one team would make a historic first ever quarterfinal appearance in the World Cup. In an all-out battle, the game, like Brazil and Chile, it would be decided by penalty kicks after 120 minutes of play.
Costa Rica would strike first after a goalless first half with a perfect strike at the 52nd minute. With most of the games in this World Cup, it would come down to the stoppage time minutes when Greece would tie it up after a follow through ball off the Costa Rican goalkeeper.
After 30 minutes of overtime, SB Nation predicted correctly of the winner coming down to penalty kicks. Even at 3-3, Theofanis Gekas would have his shot blocked by the Costa Rican goalkeeper, and Michael Umaña would put Costa Rica through to the quarterfinal with his penalty kick.
Netherlands will now face Costa Rica in the quarterfinal in the afternoon of July 5.
June 30, with a perfect winning record in the World Cup so far, France take on Nigeria, and with two wins and a tie, heavy favorites Germany play Algeria.