Costa Rica’s Magical Run Ends on Krul Note


Hats go off to Los Ticos. They battled hard and conceded zero goals against the Netherlands for 120 minutes, but ultimately Costa Rica bowed out in a heart-breaking 0-0 (2-4 PK) loss via penalty shootout. In the 120th minute of extra time, Louis Van Gaal made an unusual late-game substitute, replacing his keeper Jasper Cillessen with Tim Krul, in preparation for the penalty kicks. Van Gaal’s substitution paid off as Krul saved two of Costa Rica’s two attempts, which was enough to send Netherlands to the semifinals.

Although match began as a frustrating affair, lacking action for majority of the first and second half, both teams showed sparks of life in the final ten minutes of regular time and the entire extra time. The Dutch were cautious of Costa Rica’s counterattacking capabilities and struggled against their offside trap while Los Ticos struggled to connect in the final third in thier attacking runs to put Cillessen to the test.

Keylor Navas makes key save

Costa Rica frustrated the Dutch with their stingy defending and clever offside trap, playing their defenders high up the pitch. Despite the limited spacing imposed by Los Ticos, the Dutch still managed to create several opportunities, taking 20 shots with eight on target. Los Ticos fought to force the Dutch to play at a slow pace in hopes that the Clockwork Orange would tire themselves out towards the end of the match. However, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder’s tireless energy kept Costa Rica on their toes, as the two creators broke past Los Ticos’ offside trap in numerous occassions. Yet, Keylor Navas’ spider-like goalkeeping and Costa Rica’s defensive recovery were good enough to keep the Dutch at bay.

In the 82nd minute the Dutch had a free-kick from the edge of Costa Rica’s penalty box, but Wesley Sneijder saw his attempt go past Krul but directly at the goalpost. 10 minutes later at injury time, Daley Blind delivered a dangerous low cross into Costa Rica’s box that somehow misses everyone; however, the ball rolled to Van Persie who struck the ball at close range, but Yeltsin Tejada was standing near the post to deflect the shot which then bounced off the top post and was booted out of play.

Los Ticos almost found their game-winning goal in the 117th minute when Marcos Urena broke past Stefan De Vrij in the box and struck a close range shot from the left of goal, but the effort was saved by Cillessen. Two minutes later, Netherlands almost sealed the match when Sneijder cut a brilliant right-footed shot from outside the box to beat Navas, but it was deja vu once again as his effort bounced off the post.

Netherlands will meet Argentina in the semifinals in hopes of winning their elusive first World Cup title while Costa Rica can head home with their heads held high, knowing that they have inspired a nation no bigger than West Virginia.

Man of the Match

Tim Krul made his World Cup debut in the most unusual circumstance, having to bail his team out in a penalty shootout. Despite only saving 2 penalty attempts out of 20 last season for Newcastle United, Krul came up big in the shootout, reading Bryan Ruiz and Marcos Urena like a book. Given the lack of finishing product from the Netherlands national team, Krul might as well take the man of the match honors.

Tweets of the Match