Lionel Messi is going to get his shot at the FIFA World Cup, as Argentina defeated the Netherlands 4-2 on penalties after the match ended scoreless in the teams’ semifinal clash on Wednesday.
Sergio Romero stopped shots from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder to put Argentina on the front foot in the shootout, and Maxi Rodríguez scored the winner.
The match played out in exact opposite fashion to the Brazil-Germany blowout, with both teams’ offensive stars contained for large portions of the game, and few chances throughout.
Romero set the tone by making a save on Ron Vlaar in the first shot of the spot-kick session. His second stop on Wesley Sneijder meant it was only a matter of time for the Argentines. Maxi Rodríguez sealed the victory with his goal, as Argentina made all of its kicks.
Man of the match
Sergio Romero. Wasn’t tested for 120 minutes, but when called upon the Argentina keeper came through in the shootout.
This is the first time a World Cup semifinal has ended scoreless. It took the 20th tournament and 84 years for this to happen.
It was a good day for…
Not following any recognizable concussion protocol. Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano got into a clash of heads with Georginio Wijnaldum. Dazed, Mascherano slowly wobbled to the ground, holding his head and looking off into space. He went off the field with a trainer. And missed all of 24 seconds before he went back on the field.
It was a bad day for…
Super sub goalkeepers. The Netherlands used all of its three subs before the match was over, so we didn’t get to see a repeat appearance of super backup goalkeeper Tim Krul, who was so heroic and trash-talky against Costa Rica. It didn’t help that the Dutch lost.
They said it
"I feel immense happiness, I'm really happy with everything. (Penalties) are a question of luck, that is the reality. I had confidence in myself and, fortunately, everything turned out well." — Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero
"You shouldn't have players play a match for third and fourth place. There should only be one champion." — Dutch manager Louis van Gaal
What this means
Lionel Messi has his shot at glory. A World Cup is the only thing missing from Messi’s resume and if Argentina wins against Germany on Sunday (CBC TV, cbc.ca/fifaworldcup, 3 p.m. ET), we’ll be speaking his name in the same breath as Pele’s and Maradona’s.
Germany's ruthless 7-1 thrashing of the hosts in the semis will have many picking the Germans as the favourites.
Either way, this is one of the finals many would’ve been hoping for when the tournament began back in June.
Thought to have been in a transition period, the Dutch exceeded expectations in getting to the semis, but try telling them that after another missed opportunity to lift the World Cup for the first time. A date with the stunned hosts awaits in the third-place match on Saturday (CBC TV, cbc.ca/fifaworldcup, 4 p.m. ET).