Goalkeeper Tim Krul came off the bench late in extra time and saved two penalties as the Netherlands beat Costa Rica in a shootout to set up a World Cup semi-final against Argentina.
Newcastle’s Krul saved from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana to send the Dutch through after the game finished 0-0. Wesley Sneijder had hit the woodwork twice for the Dutch, while Robin van Persie’s shot was turned onto the bar.
They face Argentina, who beat Belgium, in Sao Paulo on Wednesday in the semis.
Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal, who willtake charge at Manchester United at the end of the tournament, brought Krul on for Jasper Cillessen in added time at the end of 120 minutes.
And Krul’s two saves proved decisive as the Dutch, who had lost each of their previous four World Cup matches that went to extra time, converted all four of their spot-kicks.
Costa Rica had progressed as winnersfrom a group containing Uruguay, Italy and England, and once again impressed with their organisation and energy. But just as they did against Mexico in the second round, Van Gaal’s team found a way through despite being some way short of the fluency they showed in patches during the group phase.
It was 21 minutes before the Netherlands managed an effort on goal. A sweeping move down the right ended with Dirk Kuyt crossing for Memphis Depay, who laid the ball off for Van Persie.
Costa Rica’s only threat came from Christian Bolanos free-kicks, with one flying just too high for midfielder Celso Borges to connect with, and another headed back across goal by Borges only for Johnny Acosta to fail to make contact.
Navas showed his quality once again when he tipped a bending Sneijder free-kick away from the top corner, but the Netherlands offered little going forward as the second half developed.
After forcing Giancarlo Gonzalez to head off target following a Bolanos set-piece, Ron Vlaar glanced a header high and wide from a whipped Sneijder free-kick at the other end.
His low drive was blocked by goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who then saved Sneijder’s follow-up.
Depay might have done better when he was released by Van Persie, but his stab at the near post was turned away by Navas.