WORLD CUP: Dutch through despite Mexican guile





In the blistering heat of Fortaleza, Mexico were on the brink of their greatest achievement at a World Cup outside its own country, broke down with just three minutes to go, falling to a devastating 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands in the last sixteen.

Temperatures of around 36 degrees were reported by FIFA and this match proved to be the first game of the Brazil 2014 finals to have a three-minute ‘cooling break’ in each half. The Dutch, from the kick off seemed to be struggling with the heat, and using their pacy attack of Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie did not look like an attacking option.

Ready to take the Manchester United hotseat, Louis van Gaal failed today in a tactical move that HE thought may have hampered the Mexicans. He dropped Feyenoord right-back Daryl Janmaat in favour of Augsburg’s Paul Verhaegh, but the latter failed to cope with Mexican left winger Miguel Layún on many occasions.

After the Dutch lost Nigel de Jong to an injury in the ninth minute, El Tri dominated the match for much of the first half. After the half-time interval, they took the lead in the 48th minute with a powerful Giovani dos Santos left-footed strike that easily beat Jasper Cillessen in goal. Receiving a pass, Dos Santos held off the challenge of Daley Blind and turned to blast his effort, from the edge of the area, into the lower right corner of the net.

Oranje pushed forward in the second half, looking for an equalizer, but the in-form keeper Guillermo Ochoa displayed some more outstanding shot stopping, especially when he deflected a point-blank volley off the goal line to preserve the lead. The goalkeeper, currently a free agent, will have no problem finding work in the next few weeks before the new seasons kick off around Europe.

However, with the quarter-finals tantalizingly close, it was all ripped away from the Mexicans, starting with Wesley Sneijder’s leveller in the 88th minute. After Klass Jan Huntelaar had nodded a corner down into the Galatasaray’s man path, he stepped up to hammer a half-volley into the net to finally beat Ochoa.

The majority of the capacity crowd were Mexicans and the atmosphere was ominous, in the 94th minute it got worse. Arjen Robben dribbled artfully near the Mexican goal and was tripped in the penalty area by veteran defender Rafael Márquez. Klaas Jan Huntelaar converted the spot kick to give the Dutch the win and upcoming meeting with either Greece or Costa Rica in the quarter-finals on Saturday.


NETHERLANDS: Cillessen, Blind, Vlaar, De Vrij, Verhaegh (Depay 57), Kuyt, Wijnaldum, De Jong (Martins Indi 9), Sneijder, Van Persie (Huntelaar 76), Robben.

GOALS: Sneijder 88, Huntelaar 90+4P.


MEXICO: Ochoa, Rodriguez, Marquez, Moreno (Reyes 46), Aguilar, Herrera, Salcido, Guardado, Layún, Dos Santos (Aquino 60), Peralta (Hernandez 75).

GOALS: Dos Santos 48.

BOOKINGS: Aguilar 69, Marques 90+3, Guardado 90+3.


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