The Dutch got a goal from Wesley Sneijder and a penalty from Klaas Jan Huntelaar in the last few minutes of the second half to eliminate Mexico. Ten-man Costa Rica defeated Greece 5-3 in a penalty shootout to move on after their round-of-16 match was tied 1-1 after 120 minutes of play. The pair will meet July 5 in Salvador, Brazil.
“It was once again incredible,” Dutch forward Robin Van Persie told reporters. “We are good. I believe in us.”
Today, France plays Nigeria in Brasilia and Germany takes on Algeria in Porto Alegre, with the winners meeting in a July 4 quarterfinal.
Mexico had several first-half chances in Fortaleza, and outshot the Dutch in that period. It went ahead when Giovani Dos Santos controlled the ball on his chest and beat Jasper Cillessen in the Dutch goal three minutes into the second half.
Ten minutes later, Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was able to push Stefan De Vrij’s close-range shot onto the post and away as the Dutch threatened.
It wasn’t until the 88th minute that they were able to tie the game when Sneijder slammed in a right-footed shot. With four minutes gone in injury time referee Pedro Proenca awarded a penalty to Arjen Robben and substitute Huntelaar put the Europeans ahead as Ochoa guessed the wrong way.
It was 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit) and 68 percent humidity at the start of the match, and Proenca took a water break in both halves, the first official rehydration stoppages of the tournament.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal said he used the breaks to change tactics. and shift players around the field.
“Indeed, it was an escape,” he told reporters. “I knew we will have a cooling break, we trained this. The idea was to improve the buildup and the positioning. We had more possession than any other match.”
The match in Recife went to a penalty shootout, where the 10-man Costa Rica made all five, with Keylor Navas’s save of Theofanis Gekas’s attempt making the difference. Costa Rica defender Michael Umana scored the final kick and was mobbed by teammates.
“Last night, I dreamed this, it seems untrue,” Umana said to broadcasters. “I was relaxed because I dreamed it. I felt very confident.”
The 2004 European champions tied the match in second-half injury time when Sokratis Papastathopoulos knocked in a rebound as the Costa Ricans tried to protect their lead.
The Central Americans went ahead when Bryan Ruiz’s left-foot shot froze goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis in the 52nd minute. Costa Rican defender Oscar Duarte was dismissed with 25 minutes of regulation time remaining for his second yellow card of the match.
While Costa Rica had almost 60 percent of possession of a slow first half, Greece had the best chance, with Navas forced into a point-blank save from Dimitris Salpingidis in the 37th minute.
Costa Rica didn’t have any shots on target in the opening period, while the European team had four.
Half of the last eight teams have been set after host Brazil and Colombia advanced two days ago. Tomorrow, Argentina plays Switzerland in Sao Paulo and Belgium meets the U.S. in Salvador for the final spot.
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at email@example.com Peter Vercoe