Holland staged a dramatic return to score twice in the last few minutes and beat Mexico, 2-1, in Fortaleza on Sunday to reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
The Dutch adopted an ultra-defensive approach in the first half, when the temperature passed 38 degrees centigrade, and only managed one shot on goal.
The Dutch fell behind three minutes after the break when Giovani Dos Santos smashed a long-range half volley into the bottom corner of the goal.
That forced the Dutch into a more aggressive, faster approach. They besieged the Mexican penalty area, but were stopped by a series of spectacular saves from goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
The Dutch removed one of their star strikers, Robin van Persie, with 14 minutes left and replaced him with Klaas Jan Huntelaar in an attempt to exploit Mexican weakness in the air. In the 88th minute, the tactic paid off. Arjen Robben hit a corner beyond the far post. Huntelaar won the header and guided the ball away from goal and into space at the edge of the area. Wesley Sneijder, charging in, did not have to break stride as he smashed the ball inside the post, giving Ochoa no chance.
Robben posed a constant threat with his pacy runs. He tumbled over more than once in the penalty area. When he was sent flying by a challenge from Rafa Marquez in the second minute of added time, Pedro Proenca, the Portuguese referee finally pointed to the spot.
Huntelaar took the kick. Ochoa went the wrong and the Dutch striker's spot kick zoomed into the bottom corner of the net.
The Dutch had come from behind to win for the third time in four games at this World Cup. Mexico lost in the first knockout round for the sixth consecutive time at a World Cup.
The game made history as the first in ever in the World Cup to have official “cooling breaks” as the players took a three-minute pause in each half to towel down and have drinks.
Holland will play either Costa Rica in Salvador next Saturday in the quarterfinals.
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Date created : 2014-06-29