It was a scorching hot Sunday afternoon with temperatures reaching 39 degrees Celsius and humidity above 60%. Despite the treacherous circumstances it was a thrilling and disappointing clash for Netherlands and Mexico, respectively. Mexico now knows how it feels like to lose despite leading 1-0 at 88 minutes that too, without even getting into extra time. Netherlands literally stole the spot for the quarters from Mexico who have been eliminated at the same stage for the last six times. Mexico played aggressively and gave nothing away; they were pressing the Europeans hard and not holding back. Attacking them when they got their chances and defending well against the Oranje strikers, especially Robben was definitely their highlight of the day. Arjen Robben, was playing at par with his reputation, coming in from the right flank and cruising through defenders, delivering the ball in to the box. The first half also saw a three-minute water break for the first time in FIFA World Cup Finals. Dehydrated players scampered to the sidelines to gain the much needed fluids; it was followed in the second half as well.
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Till half time, it was a see-saw game, though the statistics portrayed a different picture but it was because of differing strategies. At the start of the second half Mexico stunned the Netherlands and spectators around the world when Giovani dos Santos struck a thundering left foot shot from outside the D and placed it beautifully at the right hand post, leaving no chance for Jasper Cillessen to get to it. Netherlands were now hunting for a goal, it showed on the field. Mexico got a little defensive for the first time in the match, the Europeans were ripping their defence apart but were unable to score, the only reason being the Mexican goalkeeper G.Ochoa who played out of his skin with perfect reflexes and positioning, he saved some blinders, the high point being Dirk Kuyt’s header which was hit from point blank range and to the amazement of everyone, he saved it!
Saying that Netherlands were now desperate to score would be an understatement, they were dying to equalize so that they could take the match into extra-time. With van Persie being substituted in the 76th minute, it was Arjen Robben leading his team with scintillating runs. He was challenged in the penalty box and he didn’t go to the ground a commendable act of sportsmanship. Another run from him and he crossed the ball, it was cleared by a defender and it fell on the feet of the Netherlands number ten Wesley Sneider, he clobbered the ball with his left foot and it whooshed past the goalkeeper, this time he had no option but to stand and admire. Minutes later, Marquez the Mexican captain allegedly stomped on Robben’s foot and this time he fell to the ground, the referee getting a perfect view awarded a penalty. It was the 94th minute and the Mexicans were furious with the referee, they protested vehemently but to no avail. Klaas Jan Huntelaar sending the keeper the wrong way, broke 113 million hearts at one go! The supporters were in tears, it was almost over, sorry, it was OVER. They were broken, mentally and physically. In a few minutes the referee blew the whistle and with it Netherlands had won and registered a place in the quarter finals of the FIFA World Cup. They now play Costa Rica in the quarters, which beat Greece in the other round of 16 match, later in the day.
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