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World Cup Round Up: Netherlands 0-0 (p) Argentina

Dan attempts to muster up the effort to discuss last nights boring affair.

Julian Finney


From one of the most shocking and fascinating matches ever, to that.

That was bad.

The game was a classic example of two teams worried to go and attack each other, too concerned that the other team's star player will catch them on the counter. Both Netherlands and Argentina set up their shape and were brilliantly disciplined: Nigel de Jong was rarely ever more than five yards away from Lionel Messi, whilst Argentina sat so deep it was impossible for Arjen Robben to get in behind them and use his pace and trickery.

It all made for a a real snoozefest of a game.

The only shot on target for the whole first half came as a result of a fantastic pass by Gonzalo Higuain, into the path of Enzo Perez, who was clipped by Ron Vlaar and won a free kick. Lionel Messi hit a low and powerful shot from the set piece, but Jasper Cillisen held it well.

With Netherlands so concentrated on Messi, they seemingly forgot about Argentina's other attacking threats,a prime example being Ezequiel Lavezzi, who was getting lots of joy down the flanks, especially due to a real lack of pace and cover out wide for the Dutch.

Ezequiel Garay was then brave to go in for a low header, but he was held off well by Vlaar, and got a stray knee into the side of his head for his trouble.

Cillisen showed to the world he was deffinetly not short on confidence after being substituted in the last game, when he showed good feet to dummy Higuian. Cillisen did it twice through out the game, and they got the two loudest cheers in 120 minutes of football.

Lavezzi then sent a teasing cross into the box, but the brilliant Vlaar, AKA Roncrete, made a vital tackle to deny Higuian.

The second half was just as slow paced and boring as the first, each team keeping their shape and each other at bay. Vlaar, Martin Demichelis and Javier Mascherano, were all having exceptional games, which just goes to show what type of game it was.

Despite the game however, one team was at least trying to win it, that was Argentina. It may have been a bit laboured and Messi was not in the game at all, but they were trying to play some attacking stuff. It's just that every time they got near the box they were sent packing by Vlaar.

We had a bit of a 'Sterling' moment, when Higuain stretched to get a toe on to a beautiful ball from Perez, only to hit the side netting even though it looked as if it has sneaked in.

The game had trudged on for quite some time before we actually got a shot on target from open play, Marcos Rojo hitting a speculative effort from a fair way out, which Cillisen gathered.

In what would have been one of the best smash and grabs in history, Netherlands nearly won the game at the death.

Robben finally managed to find some space and was played through by a brilliant pass from Dirk Kuyt, Robben ghosted through the Argentine defence, but he waited too long to shoot, and as he was finally about to pull the trigger, he was stopped by a remarkable, last gasp sliding tackle by Mascherano. Which doomed the game to extra time.

Extra time was a complete none event and it took some serious effort to keep my eyes open.

Robben drilled a shot from distance, but Romero kept the ball in his clutches. Substitute Rodrigo Palacio, then found a bit of an opening, but in the end hit a tame header into Cillisen's arms and Maxi Rodriguez didn't quite connect with a volley cleanly.

We then got what we deserved for sitting through such a putrid affair: a penalty shoot out.

Ron Vlaar, due to his team mates refusing to, stepped up to take the first spot kick of the shoot out. His penalty was poor and it was easily pushed aside by Romero, putting a sour end to a brilliant performance from the centre back.

Where the Dutch sent up Vlaar, Argentina sent up Messi, and he kept his cool as ever to sweep the ball into the goal.

Robben was next for the Netherlands, and he got them underway with a great penalty straight into the bottom right corner. Romero would have struggled to reach it even if he had gone the right way.

It was then the turn of Argentina to send up a centre back, but Garay did not disappoint, smashing the ball into the roof of the net.

Wesley Sneijder stepped up next, and his penalty was excellently saved by Romero, who flung to his right and at full stretch, palmed it away.

Due to the Van Gaal already making three substitutions, he could not bring on Krul for the shootout, which proved costly as Cillisen, who looked quite frail in the goal, dived over Auguero's penalty, which nestled in the back of the net.

The ever reliable Kuyt didn't let his team down when they needed to score to avoid elimination, sending Romero the wrong way and slotting in the bottom right corner.

Maxi Rodriguez made the long walk to the penalty spot, if he scored Argentina were through to the final. His kick obliterated Cillisen's weak wrist and landed in the back of the net, to send Argentina to their first World Cup final in 24 years.

Mass jubilation followed.

I'm glad it was Argentina who went through in the end, although a Germany - Netherlands game would have been fierce, Argentina will go and try to play football, where as Netherlands would have probably gone defensive. It all makes for what will hopefully be a cracking final, one which I don't want to even try and predict.

The semifinals conclude with an average of four goals per game, thrilling stuff, I'm sure you'd agree.

Full Time: Netherlands 0-0 Argentina

Argentina win 4-2 on penalties

MOTM: Ron Vlaar.