World Cup 2014: Day 25
Argentina secured their path to the semi-finals thanks to a solitary strike from Gonzalo Higuaín giving them the victory over Belgium in Brasília. The match, and the National Stadium, saw Manchester City colleagues Martin Demichelis and Pablo Zabaleta line-up to face team-mate Vincent Kompany, and it was the Manchester City skipper who was called upon first as he reacted to deny Ezequiel Lavezzi. It only delayed the inevitable, however, and after a twisting run from Messi, the ball eventually fell to Higuaín, who fired low and hard into the corner from 25 yards out. Belgium tried to haul level, with Divock Origi again looking lively, and Kevin de Bruyne testing Romero from distance, while Kompany was again called into action to produce another fantastic block, this time denying di María. Belgium’s best chance of the half came when De Bruyne was picked out by a sweeping cross from Vertonghen, but he was unable to get his diving header on target.
The second half began at a far less frantic pace, with chances few and far between for the two sides, Argentina happy to sit and defend their lead. Higuaín went close with a deflected effort, that had Courtois beaten, but also flew wide of the post. The Lazio striker then saw another effort hit the bar as he continued to provide the biggest threat for Argentina. At the death, with Belgium in desperate search of an equaliser, Marc Wilmots threw Fellaini and Van Buyten up front to provide more aerial threat, but the South American side held firm, while at the other end Messi broke free and looked like scoring, only to be thwarted by Courtois. It mattered little as Argentina won 1-0 and ensured their progression to the semi-final stages for the 5th time.
The final game in the group stages saw the Netherlands and Costa Rica fight out a 0-0 draw, before Holland eventually secured the win on penalties. Costa Rica threatened early in th egame, Joel Campbell again looking lively as he whipped in a cross for Gamboa, although Ron Vlaar did well to react and clear the danger. At the other end, Van Persie then went close when his long range effort was well saved by Keylor Navas, who also reacted well to keep out the follow up from Sneijder. Navas was then called into action again, this time as he pushed away a curling Sneijder free-kick, then being forced to race off his line to deny Van Persie.
After the break, the Netherlands continued to push in search of a winner, while Costa Rica continued to hold firm. On the hour, they tried to claim a penalty when Campbell was forced over by Martins Indi, but the referee waived away the appeals. Giancarlo Gonzalez then saw his header go just over, while at the other end Ron Vlaar was also guilty of missing the target with his head. The Dutch then hit the post, another Sneijder free-kick causing the problems, and Navas well beaten. The Costa Rica keeper was quick to recover however, and reacted quickly again when called upon to deny Van Persie from close range. Van Persie then had several more chances to grab a winner for the Dutch, first failing to connect with a Sneijder cross, and then seeing his shot rebound off the bar as extra time beckoned.
Both sides had the chance to seal the win in extra time, Urena being denied by Jasper Cillessen, while at the other end Sneijder again hit the woodwork. It wasn’t to be, however, and as the match went to penalties Louis Van Gaal made the decision to through on Tim Krul, and it worked in his favour as the Newcastle shot-stopper produced saves from Bryan Ruiz and Umana to send his side through.Share this: