World Cup: Netherlands beat Costa Rica on penalties to reach semis

World Cup: Netherlands beat Costa Rica on penalties to reach semis
The Netherlands players celebrate after winning their penalty shootout in their 2014 World Cup quarter-finals against Costa Rica at the Fonte Nova arena in Salvador July 5, 2014.

SALVADOR - Substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul saved two penalties in a dramatic shoot-out on Saturday as the Netherlands edged Costa Rica 4-3 to reach the World Cup semi-finals.

After a goalless 120 minutes, the towering Newcastle United custodian came on at the end of extra time and he saved from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana to win the quarter-final for the Dutch.

It was another masterstroke from Manchester United-bound coach Louis van Gaal, who despite his ingenuity was unable to engineer a breakthrough in normal and extra time.

Costa Rica rarely threatened and appeared content to play for penalties, their strong suit after goalkeeper Keylor Navas kept out Greece in a shoot-out in the last 16.

But their bluff was called and after Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt all buried their kicks, the outstretched Krul denied Umana to seal the win.

The thrilling shoot-out came after a match in which goalkeeping also featured strongly when the Dutch hit the woodwork three times and were repeatedly denied by Navas.

Their first chance came when Kuyt squared it to Memphis Depay, who found Van Persie in the area but had his close-range shot well blocked by Navas.

The goalkeeper then spared Ruiz's blushes, after his captain gave the ball away on the halfway line, when he stopped smartly from Depay.

Robben's frank admission to diving dominated the build-up but Uzbek referee Ravshan Irmanov had no delay in awarding free-kicks when he went down twice in quick succession.

And Sneijder nearly buried the second when he curled it past the wall, only for his goal-bound shot to be denied by Navas's fabulous flying, one-handed save.

The Levante 'keeper was again on his toes when he came out quickly to dive on Robben's through-ball just ahead of the on-rushing Van Persie.

The Netherlands were starting to carve Costa Rica open but despite 63 per cent of possession in the opening half, they went into the break goalless.

Costa Rica hadn't had a shot on target but they had a chance on the hour when Junior Diaz surged and found Campbell, who went sprawling but had his penalty claim denied.

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