Krul the hero as Dutch reach semis

2014-07-06 06:14

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Netherlands goalkeeper Tim Krul made a dramatic entrance off the bench to save two penalties in a shootout win over Costa Rica following a 0-0 draw after extra time, sending the Dutch into a World Cup semifinal with Argentina.

Heavy favourites for the clash yesterday, the Dutch dominated but were frustrated by the woodwork and a string of fine stops from Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas before Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal sent on Krul late in extra time for the shootout.

It was an inspired move as Krul plunged to his left to keep out two Costa Rican kicks while Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt held their nerve to score from the spot and give the Dutch a 4-3 shootout win.

The Netherlands, who have reached the final three times but never won the World Cup, will play Argentina in Sao Paulo on Wednesday. Hosts Brazil play Germany in the other semifinal.

"You sit on the edge and think it might go to extra time and penalties and you have to take the team from the quarterfinals to the semis," Krul said. "It's a dream, it's unbelievable."

Krul had reportedly been working specifically on saving penalties for seven weeks with Dutch coaches and he looked confident from the moment he arrived on the pitch.

"We found among the keepers that Tim Krul was the best to save penalties because he has a longer reach," Van Gaal said.

"We studied their penalties and you can see that Krul picked the right corners. I'm really proud that the work paid off."

It was a tough end to a superb campaign for World Cup surprise package Costa Rica, who had already seen off the challenge of three former world champions and were bidding to become the first team from the Concacaf region to reach the last four since the United States in 1930.

Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto noted his team left the tournament unbeaten in normal play and praised goalkeeper Navas, who thwarted the Dutch time and time again.

"We have a brilliant, spectacular goalkeeper. What we did on the pitch, what we showed to the world, I think that is crucial. We are not a big power but we demonstrated things, we are leaving very proud," he said.

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