Argentina through to final

July 10, 2014 at 1:16 am
Posted under: 2014 FIFA World Cup, Argentina, Argentina News, Netherlands, Netherlands News, News

Argentina's forward and captain Lionel Messi controls the ball during a quarter-final football match between Argentina and Belgium at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 5, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JUAN MABROMATA
Argentina's forward and captain Lionel Messi controls the ball during a quarter-final football match between Argentina and Belgium at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 5, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JUAN MABROMATA

With Brazil out, Argentina was South America’s last hope in their Semi-final encounter with the Netherlands at a packed to capacity Arena de Sao Paulo. Argentina won the tight match through 2-4 through penalties.

Players and fans applauded as an image of the Argentine legend Alfredo Di Stefano who passed away two days ago, was displayed on the big screens. This is why the South American players were sporting black armbands.

The match started with both teams trying to find their tempo of the game, but the Argentines enjoyed much of the possession although the Dutch were pressing high and limiting the space for the speedy Argentine attack.

Argentina’s closest chance of the half came through a set-piece, after Enzo Perez was brought down by Dutch defender Ron Vlaar. Lionel Messi took the free-kick from 30 yards, but his powerful strike was saved by goalkeeper Jasper Cillesen. Ezequiel Lavezzi’s pace was a dominant force in a number of Argentina attacks, causing a headache for Stefan de Vrij and company.

The Netherlands managed to send in crosses into the box from the wings, but goalkeeper Sergio Romero dealt with them, even though some of the balls he punched away dangerously landed in the path of Dutch players. Their first half was not as they would have wished, with Argentina making more threats upfront.

The Second half was tighter, as both sides endlessly attacked each other. Striker Gonzalo Higuaín couldn’t connect his head to a cross early in the opening moments of the second stanza, which could have given Argentina the lead.

The Dutch enjoyed majority of the ball possession, as they did in most of the first half, but could not score. This inspired the Argentines to attack; Lavezzi beat the off-side trap to send in a brilliant cross only for Higuaín, but Dutch substitute defender Daryl Janmaat dealt with it. Sergio Aguero who later came on for Higuaín, did not have the immediate impact Coach Alejandro Sabella would have hoped for.

The tight encounter pushed on to extra time, with both teams stubbornly managing to keep each other in check throughout regular time.

Robin Van Persie was substituted early in the first half of extra-time, as he looked tired, probably because of a stomach problem that reportedly threatened to rule him out of the fixture. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar came on for the Dutch captain.

Netherlands defender Vlaar splendidly carried out his task of keeping the diminutive Messi out of the game. From the dying moments of the regular time, Messi was not as threatening.

Argentina came close to finding the winning goal in the dying moments of extra time, as both teams seemed to be conserving energy for the penalty shoot-out. Forward Rodrigo Palacio should’ve scored after receiving a chip but failed, confirming the dreaded penalty shoot-out.

The penalties started off on a bad note for the Netherlands as Vlaar’s shot was saved by Romero. The Argentines scored all their penalties, but it was when Wesley Sneijder’s penalty was saved by Romero, that it became obvious that the Netherlands had lost.

It was a Maxi Rodríguez penalty that confirmed their meeting with Germany at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio De Janeiro on Sunday.

Bonginkosi Tiwane


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