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Shootout victory

Robben’s World Cup dream lives on

Arjen Robben and the Netherlands remain in the hunt for a maiden World Cup crown. In the last of the quarter-finals in Brazil, the men in orange edged out rank underdogs Costa Rica with a 4-3 win on penalties after the 120 minutes of normal and extra-time finished goalless. In the nation’s fifth World Cup semi-final, the team coached by former Bayern boss Louis van Gaal meet two-time world champions Argentina, who made the last four with a tight 1-0 win against Belgium.

The 51,179 crowd in Salvador saw Costa Rica reproduce their headline-grabbing form from previous matches against Italy, England and Uruguay as the Central Americans chased and harried their illustrious opponents to the end. Keeper Keylor Navas was the standout player with a string of great saves to thwart Robben and Co as they sought to kill it off in normal and extra-time. However, the match-winner was opposing reserve keeper Tim Krul, who was sent on by Van Gaal shortly before the shootout and saved two Costa Rica penalties to see his side into the last four.

“It’s not normal. You spend the whole time on the bench only to be sent on and told to take your team through to the semi-finals. It’s a childhood dream come true,” said Krul after the dramatic showdown. Dutch captain Robin van Persie was overjoyed: “It’s bizarre. The substitution at the end was a masterstroke. We all know Tim’s good against penalties. He made two brilliant saves.”