News / Americas

World Cup: Argentina, Netherlands Advance

Argentina's players celebrate near Belgium's Marouane Fellaini, left, after winning their 2014 World Cup quarter-finals, Brasilia national stadium, July 5, 2014.
Argentina's players celebrate near Belgium's Marouane Fellaini, left, after winning their 2014 World Cup quarter-finals, Brasilia national stadium, July 5, 2014.
Mike Richman

Argentina qualified for its first trip to the World Cup semifinals in nearly a quarter-century Saturday, while the Netherlands secured its second straight visit to the semifinal round.

The Argentines knocked off Belgium, 1-0, in Brasilia. Striker Gonzalo Higuain scored the only goal, firing the ball into the corner of the net less than 10 minutes into the match.

Argentine superstar Lionel Messi had a chance to make it 2-0 toward the end of the game, but goalie Thibaut Courtois made the save.

Argentina now heads to its first World Cup semifinal since 1990, after being eliminated in the quarterfinals in 2006 and 2010.

"We produced a very complete match," Messi said. "We weren't able to create that many chances, but they didn't make that many clear chances, either."

Messi and Maradona

The Argentines are seeking their third World Cup championship, after wins in 1978 and 1986. In 1986, they were led by Diego Maradona, a man widely considered the greatest soccer player ever behind Brazilian legend Pele.

Messi, a four-time FIFA Player of the Year, said he and his teammates took great pride in matching the achievement of Argentina's 1990 team.

"This is amazing," said Messi, who is often compared with Maradona. "We knew it was going to be difficult. Argentina [has] gone a long time without doing this, and it was us who crossed the frontier."

Argentina next plays the Netherlands in the semifinals on Wednesday in Sao Paulo. The game marks a rematch of the 1978 World Cup championship, which Argentina won, 3-1.

Both teams have won all five of their matches at this year's World Cup.

In Salvador Saturday, the Netherlands posted a 4-3 penalty shootout win over the surprise of the World Cup, Costa Rica, following a scoreless draw.

Dutch goalie Tim Krul, who came off the bench late in extra time and played in the shootout, dove to his left to stop penalty shots by Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana. Krul is 5.1 centimeters taller than starting goalie Jasper Cillessen.

The Dutch, who converted all four of their penalty shots, dominated the match in regulation and extra time.

But Costa Rica's goalie Keylor Navas made a series of outstanding saves, stopping star striker Robin van Persie at least twice. Van Persie also was denied by midfielder Yeltsin Tejeda, who blocked an attempt while standing on the goal line.

Another dangerous Dutch player, Wesley Sneijder, was inches away from scoring. But his shot in regulation hit the post and another in extra time bounced off the crossbar.

Krul clutch

"We had a lot of chances, but it didn't go in," Krul said on Dutch television. "Then I come in, stop two penalties and here we are."

Krul praised Dutch coach Louis van Gaal for pulling Cillessen at the time he did.

"The trick is good," the goalie said. "A lot of preparation went into it."

The other semifinal game, Tuesday in Belo Horizonte, pits teams believed by many to be the world's top two football powers: Brazil and Germany.

But Brazil will be without two key players. Its leader and superstar, Neymar, broke a vertebra when Colombia's Juan Zuniga kneed him near the end of Brazil's 2-1 win in the quarterfinals. Neymar, who has scored four goals in the World Cup, has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament.

Brazilian captain Thiago Silva will not play because of a yellow-card suspension. He scored a goal in the win over Colombia, after a corner kick by Neymar.

Brazil, Germany and Argentina have won 10 of the 19 World Cups. The Dutch were finalists in 1974, 1978 and 2010.

This year's championship game is on July 13 in Rio de Janeiro.

Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Imran from: Bangladesh
July 08, 2014 5:24 AM
Now Argentina is in a great form. It is possible to win the FIFA world cup 2014 by Argentina. As they had missed a lots of chances scoring goal against Switzerland, they have to work really hard in Semi final I think.

by: Tani from: Albania
July 06, 2014 2:56 PM
Netherlands will become Champions for all the injustices of the past by stepping over all the three teams that denied them be World Champions in the past! The already beat Spain (2010 final's rival) in group stage, they will beat Argentina (1978 final's rival) in the semifinal and will beat Germany in the final (1974 final's rival) in a circular revenging magic the Dutch themselves may not have even imagined!
In Response

by: jony from: malaysia
July 07, 2014 5:28 AM
No way im not agree wt u coz argentina will win the world cup 2014...coz messi . Di maria higuen.rojo n gago they played so good ...so i hope they will win the world cup

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