Dutch, Costa Rica advance in World Cup
Wesley Sneijder and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar led a late Dutch fightback to sink Mexico and reach the World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday as Costa Rica advanced with a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Greece.
A controversial injury-time penalty won by Arjen Robben saw Holland snatch a 2-1 victory over Mexico in Fortaleza before the Central American minnows defeated Greece 5-3 on penalties in Recife to reach the last eight for the first time.
Bayern Munich star Robben, who is often accused of going to ground too easily, tumbled to the turf in injury time after a tackle by Mexico's Rafael Marquez.
Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca pointed to the spot and stepped up to bury the winning penalty.
It came just moments after Sneijder had scored an 88th-minute equaliser to cancel out Giovani dos Santos's superb goal for Mexico.
The epic finale settled a second round battle played in furnace-like conditions at Fortaleza's Castelao Stadium.
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera lashed out at referee Proenca for awarding the penalty.
"The determining factor was the man with the whistle. He put us of the World Cup," Herrera said.
"At the very least they can look at this and this referee ought to be going home like us."
Robben however insisted Proenca had been right to award the penalty, telling Dutch broadcaster NOS: "I was fouled."
But Robben did admit to a dive in an unsuccessful attempt to win a penalty earlier in the first half.
"I really have to say and at the same time apologise in the first half I took a dive and I really shouldn't do that," Robben said.
"That was a stupid, stupid thing to do but sometimes you're expecting to be struck and then they pull their leg away at the last minute."
- Second round jinx -
The Dutch fightback left Mexico's players in tears as their last 16 jinx struck again.
Mexico have now lost in the second round in six consecutive World Cup appearances, and had been just minutes away from a first quarter-final since 1986.
The match saw three-minute cooling breaks used for the first time in World Cup history as pitch-side temperatures hit 39 degrees (102.2 Fahrenheit).
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal praised his team for not wilting as they chased an equaliser in punishing conditions.
"The players showed they had faith and belief until the very end," said Van Gaal.
"The humidity was not in our favour so when you see that until the very last minute we were fresher and fitter than the Mexicans that is a big compliment to my players."
Holland now face Costa Rica in Salvador on Saturday after the Central Americans defeated Greece.
Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas was the hero, saving Greece's fourth penalty from Fanis Gekas before Michael Umana stepped up to convert the winning spot-kick for "Los Ticos."
A lacklustre game at the Pernambuco Arena saw Costa Rica take the lead on 52 minutes through captain Bryan Ruiz.
Christian Bolanos picked out Ruiz on the edge of the area, and the 28-year-old striker coolly placed his finish in the bottom corner beyond Orestis Karnezis.
Costa Rica, the surprise package of the World Cup so far after winning Group D ahead of Uruguay, Italy and England, looked to have Greece's measure.
But the dismissal of Costa Rica's Oscar Duarte for a tackle on Jose Holebas swung the game back towards the Greeks.
Costa Rica appeared to have survived the onslaught but with just seconds to go, Navas could only parry a shot from Theofanis Gekas, and Sokratis Papastathopoulos was on hand to sweep home the equaliser.
Both sides created chances in extra-time, but were unable to find a way through, leading to the shoot-out lottery.
"To everyone back home and out on the streets - this is for you," said Costa Rica's manager Jorge Luis Pinto.
"The people love football and they deserve this. We're ambitious, we want to grow and develop and God willing we will go on in this tournament."
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