World Cup Daily Recap: Argentina advances past the Dutch in dramatic penalty kick shootout
Well, it has been decided – European giants Germany will take on South American titans Argentina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup final on Sunday. The final will be the third time Germany and Argentina have met in a World Cup championship with the two countries previously meeting in back-to-back finals in 1986 and 1990. Argentina took home the spoils in the first encounter followed by Germany enacting revenge to win it all four years later.
After playing to a scoreless draw after regulation and extra time, the two sides went to penalty kicks where Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero made two huge saves on Dutch defender Ron Vlaar and midfielder Wesley Sneijder to give Argentina the advantage. The South American side finished four-straight penalties to send its country into euphoria and advance to the final.
The Netherlands put in a strong defensive showing on Wednesday, as they were able to lock down Argentina superstar Lionel Messi for the entire match. Despite shutting down Argentina’s attack, the European side was unable to finish any of its chances on the other end to prevent the shootout. The stalemate of a match never really opened up until the final 15 minutes of regulation, that saw Argentina miss a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 75th minute. The play started with a cross from Argentine midfielder Enzo Perez to the near post that forward Gonzalo Higuain was able to reach but his shot was disappointing, hitting the side netting.
The Netherlands almost managed a late game-winner in the 91st minute. Dutch Wesley Sneijder flicked on a pass that snuck midfielder Arjen Robben in behind and appeared to have a 1v1 with the goalkeeper, but Argentine midfielder Javier Mascherano was able to recover well to extinguish the chance.
The Netherlands will now face host country Brazil in the third-place match on Saturday, July 12 at 2:00 p.m. MT on ESPN. The Germany v. Argentina final will be held on Sunday, July 13 in Rio de Janeiro at 1:00 p.m. MT on ESPN.