Netherlands are into the semi-finals of the World Cup after a penalty shoot-out win over Costa Rica following a 0-0 draw.

  • By Michael Bell
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ned krulLouis van Gaal changed his starting tactics for the first time this tournament, with the 5-3-2 getting swapped for a 3-4-3 as Netherlands looked to attack from the start.

The early signs were good as Arjen Robben and Memphis Depay caused problems early on with their pace on the wings. The first big chance came on 21 minutes when Robin van Persie was found in space, but his shot was saved by Keylor Navas, before Wesley Sneijder’s follow up was straight at the Costa Rica keeper.

Navas was again called into action to save from Memphis Depay as Netherlands continued to dominate the possession without creating too many chances. Costa Rica found their best chances from set pieces and Celso Borges’s clipped free kick was just missed by a team-mate at the back post.

The best chance of the first half fell to Sneijder as his excellent free-kick was stabbed round the post by Navas, who was starting to live a charmed life in the Costa Rican goal.

Dutch frustration continued into the second half, with Netherlands hitting the post from another Sneijder free kick before Robin van Persie somehow failed to connect with a cross from a few yards out. In second half injury time the bar once again came to Costa Rica’s rescue with Robin van Persie seeing a close range effort deflected onto the woodwork as the game headed into extra time.

Costa Rica were clearly tiring in extra time, while the Dutch looked fresher, especially Arjen Robben, who was still full of running. Ron Vlaar saw a header well saved from Navas, while at the other end Jasper Cillessen was called into action for the first time to stop an effort from Marcos Urena.

In the final minute of extra time Sneijder once again hit the woodwork with a tremendous effort from the edge of the box. It seemed it was going to be one of those nights for the Dutch.

The match headed to penalties, but before the full time whistle was blown Louis van Gaal decided to change Jasper Cillessen for Tim Krul in goal. It was a move that left many people baffled, but it again proved to be a masterstroke from the Dutch coach.

The Newcastle stopper proved to be Netherlands hero as he kept out two penalties from Costa Rica, while Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, and Dirk Kuyt were all accurate to send the Oranje into the semi-finals.

It was not vintage from Netherlands but they will be in the final four of the World Cup, and will face Argentina on Wednesday.

The dream goes on for the Dutch! Hup Holland Hup

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