Krul heartbreak for Costa Rica; Argentina, Netherlands in final four

Dutchman Tim Krul might be the first player ever to decide a football match without playing in the active part of the game.

Ninety minutes of regulation time plus 30 minutes extra time had expired when Uzbekistan referee Ravshan Irmatov allowed Krul on to the field to replace first choice Netherlands goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.

And Krul made his presence felt with two brilliant saves in the penalty shoot-out as the Netherlands edged Costa Rica 4-3 to book a 2014 World Cup semifinal date with Argentina next Tuesday.

Photo: Netherlands goalkeeper and super-sub Tim Krul. (Copyright AFP 2014/Gabriel Bouys)
Photo: Netherlands goalkeeper and super-sub Tim Krul.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Gabriel Bouys)

It might be necessary to point out now that Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal, who also exploited a water break to introduce a decisive tactical change against Mexico in the Round of 16, is the mentor of Chelsea’s charismatic, win-at-all-costs coach Jose Mourinho.

And let’s just say that, if either Van Gaal or Mourinho was behind Section 34, controversial businessmen Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson would be free men today.

Next Tuesday, Van Gaal would cross wits with Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella whose major accomplishment today was to get through 90 without falling on his face. Literally.

Well, that is how the social media will remember Sabella’s day anyhow; after the 59-year-old coach’s enthusiastic shadowing of a Gonzalo Higuain effort left him either trying to defy gravity or earn a spot in a remake of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” music video. (Click HERE to see the hilarious video clip).

In truth, Sabella produced a more understated masterclass himself as he dusted off the absences of injured striker Sergio Agüero, suspended left back Marcos Rojo and the early departure of winger Angel Di Maria to produce an assurance performance against Belgium.

It is true that Argentina’s game plan has just five letters: M-E-S-S-I. But the devil is always in the details and Sabella deserves more credit for his handling of the supporting cast; otherwise known as the ten guys in blue and white stripes who are not Lionel Messi.

Higuain was the player who gallantly offered to give his captain the evening off today as he exploited a yard of space to drive Argentina ahead in the eighth minute.

Photo: Argentina forward and captain Lionel Messi (centre) is surrounded by Belgium players (from right) Daniel Van Buyten, Toby Alderweireld, Marouane Fellaini and Axel Witsel during their quarter-final football match at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia.  (Copyright AFP 2014/Juan Mabromata)
Photo: Argentina forward and captain Lionel Messi (centre) is surrounded by Belgium players (from right) Daniel Van Buyten, Toby Alderweireld, Marouane Fellaini and Axel Witsel during their quarter-final football match at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Juan Mabromata)

But for the impressive pair of captain Vincent Kompany and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, it might have been worse as Messi and Di Maria found the gaps as Belgium bombed forward while Higuain struck the bar in the second half.

Wilmots withdrew his best technical player, Eden Hazard, in the 70th minute and the instructions to his team might well have been “keep off the grass” as they rained long balls towards the opposing penalty box for the rest of the match.

Belgium-cum-Stoke City; it did not stop the European team from being ushered towards the exit.

Van Gaal will not go so easily. The Netherlands should probably have won the match in regulation or extra time as Wesley Sneijder (twice) and Robin Van Persie both hit the frame of the Costa Rican goal.

But, as the game headed towards the lottery of the shoot-out, the Dutch coach improved his team’s odds by bringing on a fresh goalkeeper who also happened to be decent at facing penalties.

And it meant a Krul finish for the CONCACAF’s last team standing.


Today’s World Cup action

Quarterfinal Final results

Argentina 1 (Gonzalo Higuain 8), Belgium 0

Netherlands 0, Costa Rica 0

*–Netherlands win 4-3 on penalties


Star of the Day

Netherlands goalkeeper Tim Krul saved just two from 20 penalties at England Premier League club Newcastle United. But, fresh as a daisy, Krul saved two of Costa Rica’s five efforts as Netherlands snuck into the final four of the 2014 World Cup.


Villain of the Day

There were no obvious stand-outs in this category today. Netherlands winger Arjen Robben again infuriated with his tendency to treat defenders’ legs like swimming pool springboards while Belgium winger Eden Hazard was so ineffectual that his next job might be as Trinidad and Tobago Police Commissioner.

Photo: Belgium attacker Eden Hazard (right) and Netherlands player Jetro Willems fight for the ball during their friendly in Brussels on August 15, 2012.  (Copyright AFP 2014/John Thys)
Photo: Belgium attacker Eden Hazard (right) and Netherlands player Jetro Willems fight for the ball during their friendly in Brussels on August 15, 2012.
(Copyright AFP 2014/John Thys)

But Belgium coach Marc Wilmots gets the dubious honour today after bizarrely instructed his team to play for alley-oops in the final 25 minutes.

As the late legendary British coach Brian Clough once pointed out, if God meant for football to be played in the sky He would have planted grass there.

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  1. Tim Krul is not a noted penalty saver but certainly has more experience than the starting keeper which is somewhat bizarre.

    I would hardly classify them as great saves though as the Luiz penalty in particular was very poorly taken.

    Still they are through and will give Argentina a far sterner test than Belgium.

    The semis will be E.P.I.C.

  2. But the fact is he is now out of the tournament because of this reckless challenge that was not penalized! (Sad face) Me and Brother Earl! Lol.

  3. I know. I respect their opinions too. Sadly these things happen.
    It wasn’t a Roy Keane challenge even though it deserved a card.

  4. Lets see what decision the FIFA disciplinary committee makes on this review of the said incident!

  5. Just commenting on what actual players are saying Lasana!

  6. The elbow that Neymar flung at Modric in the opening match could have easily led to damage too. A red card to Zuniga? Sure. But let’s not get carried away otherwise.

  7. Latest News: FIFA disciplinary committee planned to review video footage of the challenge on Neymar. Statement by Ronaldo: ”I thought it was a highly violent and unlawful move by the Colombia player, but that is not important anymore,” Ronaldo said. ”We are fearful and sad for the loss of our player.”
    Sharing the news conference with Ronaldo, former Italy defender Fabio Cannavaro agreed that Zuniga appeared to want to hurt Neymar.

    ”I didn’t like that very high knee so that leads me to believe it was a foul with intention to actually cause harm,” said Cannavaro, who was captain of the 2006 World Cup winning team.

  8. Also which one of these offenses did Tiago commit yesterday. Trick question! Offences committed against goalkeepers
    • It is an offence for a player to prevent a goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands
    • A player must be penalised for playing in a dangerous manner if he kicks or attempts to kick the ball when the goalkeeper is in the process of releasing it
    • It is an offence to restrict the movement of the goalkeeper by unfairly
    impeding him, e.g. at the taking of a corner kick.

  9. Cautions for unsporting behaviour! 1. acts in a manner which shows a lack of respect for the game> 2. verbally distracts an opponent during play or at a restart?

  10. Agreed. It was unsportmanlike. For sure. But that is no excuse. I see AllFours tournament in community centers with more intimidation:)

  11. If I was refereeing I would have instructed him to stand his ground on the line or cautioned him for unsporting behaviour! I believe that it was? And Lasana how do you know he was not cursing in Dutch? LOL!

  12. Yeah I didn’t like it, but if someone can talk you down mentally, at this stage with so much at stake, chances are, you parang the wrong house..

  13. I’ve seen that done before though. He wasn’t snarling and cursing or anything

  14. Oh losh. I rebuke that fifth talk. Lol

  15. I do not understand why the referee allowed him to come forward and attempt to intimidate the kickers the way he did?

  16. he may be able to work some magic and turn those losses into draws….but inevitably Man U will hold on to fifth spot next season

  17. I eh kno bout all dat man u and ting…

  18. Hope he saves some magic for Man U next season… But I hope he runs out of magic against Argentina! :-/

  19. another genius sub from van gaal

  20. Lmao oh gorm. Where Gilbert O’Connor Jr allyuh #stopit

  21. van gaal made krul study these costa rican spot kickers like an exam and he passed with full colours….thats the only reason he came on…tactics was correct by the dutch once again.

  22. Only snakes like rat you know…

  23. Hahahaha well then he over qualified. Make him a Minister lol.

  24. Hazard for Commissioner of Police! Lol

  25. Hazard did an excellent impression of Stephen Williams. He talked a good game at a few press conferences, fiddled around the field unconvincingly and left without any charges, arrests or displays of conviction 😉

  26. Hahaha. Yes. He put a lot of pressure on the Costa Rican kickers. And they must have been exhausted while he was fresh and up for it

  27. Lol Hazard for CoP. He even have the right name:)

  28. but study he dive correct for every shot

  29. a man star out wit 2 touches oui

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