Friday, April 20, 2018
Sports

Netherlands advances to World Cup semifinals, beating Costa Rica in shootout

SALVADOR, Brazil — Louis Van Gaal made the call, and Tim Krul made the saves.

In another move that will only add to his reputation as a tactical mastermind, the Netherlands coach led his team into the World Cup semifinals after bringing on Krul with seconds remaining in extra time.

Moments later, Krul saved two penalties in a 4-3 shootout victory over Costa Rica, making the Manchester United-bound Van Gaal again look like a genius.

"It worked out," Van Gaal said Saturday after his team played Costa Rica to a 0-0 draw through extra time. "That was beautiful. I'm a bit proud of that."

Jasper Cillessen started in goal, but Van Gaal made the decision to pull him after 120 minutes of scoreless play and replace him with Krul, who, at 6 feet 4, is 2 inches taller.

The Newcastle goalkeeper, who really only touched the ball twice all game, saved the second and fifth penalties, and guessed the correct way on all five.

"We thought it all through," Van Gaal said. "We all thought that Tim Krul was the best keeper to stop penalties. He is taller and has a longer reach. We prepared for the Costa Rica penalties just as we prepared for our own penalties."

In the semifinals, the Netherlands faces Lionel Messi and his Argentina teammates in Sao Paulo on Wednesday.

Although Krul made the decisive stops in the shootout, it was Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas who was the star of the match.

Navas made a string of saves to keep the attacking Dutch scoreless for 90 minutes of regulation time and 30 minutes of extra time.

His night, however, will forever be overshadowed by Krul, and by Van Gaal.

"I never saw something like that," Costa Rica midfielder Celso Borges said of the goalkeeping change. "But they were right; he did his job."

Van Gaal has made several inspired changes in the team's five straight wins. He brought on Klaas Jan Huntelaar against Mexico, and the Schalke striker had an assist and scored a stoppage-time penalty to win 2-1.

Against Chile, midfielder Leroy Fer scored within a minute of coming on to break a 0-0 deadlock. Another substitute, Memphis Depay, scored the second in the 2-0 victory.

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