Today’s summary of the quarter final matches at the FIFA World Cup for Saturday, July 5 in Brazil.
Argentines dump disappointing Belgium
It was bound to happen. Many of us were counting the days. The team expected to be the tournament’s dark horse had been nothing but a lame pony in Brazil, and Argentina were the ones to administer the mercy shot as they triumphed last night.
Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain proved the difference with a silky volley eight minutes in, but it was Belgium who sowed the seeds of their own defeat, playing uninspiring football that lacked the confidence and depth expected from Belgium’s vaunted “Golden Generation”.
Argentina marches on to the final four where they join Germany and hosts Brazil for the first time since 1990. They may have to play the semis without Real Madrid ace Angel Di Maria, who hobbled off before half-time with an injury he picked up shooting at goal.
The Argentines were simply too good, making a case for effective possession by dominating across the park despite controlling the ball only 51 per cent of the time. The creative squad produced myriad chances in the front third, but could only make the net rustle once when a deflected Di Maria pass fell into the path of Higuain just inside the box. Given little time to react, he struck true into the bottom left corner, leaving Belgian stopper Thibaut Courtois rooted to the spot.
Clock strikes midnight on Costa Rica
A dominant Dutch outfit closed the book just short of a happy ending for Costa Rica, penalties denying the South American Cinderella her chance to attend the ball. After neither team could be separated over 120 minutes, the Netherlands outclassed their minnow opponents from 12 yards to run out 0-0 (4-3) victors. Louis Van Gaal’s side should probably have done the job in normal time: they fired at goal 20 times with 15 on target, earned 11 corners and enjoyed 64 per cent of possession. Costa Rica’s keeper Keylor Navas kept Holland at bay – for a while – in what has been a breakthrough tournament for the 27-year old.
Then Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt buried their penalties, and Holland’s substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul, who was brought on late when Van Gaal realised the match would be decided from the spot, proved the match winner as he parried two shots, including Michael Umana’s critical fifth penalty. The Netherlands will now face Argentina for a spot in the showpiece on July 14. – Patrick Boddan