FIFA World Cup: Argentina, Netherlands set up semi-final clash as Belgium, Costa Rica crash out
Zee Media Bureau/Chaitan Papnai
New Delhi: The Netherlands and Argentina have crossed another hurdle to book a berth in the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup 2014 on Saturday by beating Costa Rica and Belgium, respectively.
In the first quarter-final clash of the day, Argentina beat Belgium 1-0 to end their semi-final jinx in the World Cup. For the `Albicelestes`, Gonzalo Higuain scored a goal in the 8th minute with the help of a powerful volley, which beat young and resilient goalie Thibaur Courtois, who conceded just two goals before this match in this World Cup.
The Napoli man, who had been criticised for not scoring a single goal in the tournament, before the quarter-final clash, silent his critics by scoring the only goal of the match against the Red Devils in an emphatic fashion. Higuain’s goal proved enough for the South American side to seal a semi-final berth.
After 1990 World Cup, Argentina have reached this far for the very first time. In the last two editions they lost the plot in the quarter-finals after losing to Germany on both occasions.
However, the talisman Argentine, Lionel Messi couldn’t manage to score in the match, the skipper can take heart from the fact that his team finally played like a unit. Argentina, who reached the quarter-finals, majorly due to the individual brilliance of Messi, played as a team and looked less dependent on their star striker.
Messi, got the best chance to score in the third minute of the stoppage time when he just had to beat the Belgium goalie. But Courtois anticipated well to deny the four-time Ballon D`or winner his fifth goal of the on-going edition.
But the way Belgium have performed in the tournament proved that they can emerge as the footballing superpower in the years to come.
Meanwhile, in the last quarter-final match of the World Cup, Costa Rica gave a tough fight to the Netherlands, as the game was decided in the penalty shootout after the goalless 90 minutes plus 30 minutes of extra time.
Costa Rica certainly punched above their weight but eventually lost to the 2010 finalists 4-3 on penalties. Louis van Gaal’s last minute strategy to bring in substitute goalkeeper, Tim Krul, worked well, as he saved two penalties to help Netherlands make it to the next round.
Costa Rica, who had emerged as the surprise package of the tournament proved their worth against one of the best teams of the tournament before crashing out in the penalty shootouts.
With the win against Costa Rica, the Dutch team has set up a semi-final clash against Argentina on Wednesday.