Argentina eliminated the Netherlands in a penalty shootout to set up a third meeting with Germany in the World Cup final.
After a scoreless game in Sao Paulo yesterday, Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved penalty kicks by Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder to help his team win the shootout 4-2.
“Penalties are a question of luck,” Romero told reporters. “I had confidence in myself and, fortunately, everything turned out well.”
Germany will make a record eighth appearance in the World Cup final at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on July 13. Diego Maradona led Argentina to a second world title with a 3-2 win over Germany in the 1986 final. Germany avenged the loss four years later with a 1-0 win for a third World Cup win. Neither has won the tournament since.
After easing to a record 7-1 win over Brazil two days ago, Germany is the 8-11 favorite to win the final at U.K. bookmaker Ladbrokes, with Argentina rated an 11-10 chance.
“We have a day’s less rest than Germany but we’ll face that game with honesty and humility,” Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella told reporters. “Germany has shown great physical power and mental strength.”
The Dutch will play in the third-place match July 12 against five-time champion Brazil.
Argentina had five shots on goal and the Netherlands had two during 120 minutes of play, with the Dutch having a slight advantage in possession.
“In all the other matches we created more chances,” Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal, who will join Manchester United after the World Cup, told reporters. “That says something about the tactical match we played in.”
Rodrigo Palacio had the best chance of the game with five minutes remaining in the second period of extra time. The substitute couldn’t get any power on his header, which was easily gathered by Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen after the forward got past the Dutch defense.
Minutes later Maxi Rodriguez’s volley from a cross by Lionel Messi bounced straight to Cillessen.
“It was a very hard game, very equal,” Sabella said. “We had a few clearer goal-scoring chances.”
The game was played on a public holiday in Argentina for Independence Day. In Rosario, the hometown of Messi, Angel Di Maria and Rodriguez, people streamed toward the Monumento de la Bandera to celebrate the win.
Germany’s victory was the most lopsided in a World Cup semifinal. The worst defeat in Brazilian history was also the biggest loss for a tournament host. The rout ended a run of 63 competitive matches at home without a defeat for Brazil, going back to 1975.
“It’s a catastrophe,” Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari told reporters.
Striker Miroslav Klose got Germany’s second goal to become the career scoring leader in the World Cup with 16 goals, one more than Brazilian Ronaldo.
The margin of defeat matched a 6-0 drubbing for Brazil by Uruguay in the Copa America in 1920. Brazil’s previous biggest loss at the World Cup was 3-0 to France in 1998, while the most goals it had conceded at the tournament prior to yesterday was against Poland in a 6-5 win after extra time in 1938.
Brazil has now blown its two chances to win the World Cup on home soil. In 1950, it lost the final game 2-1 to Uruguay to allow its southern neighbor to claim a second title. A draw would have secured Brazil’s first world title.