In a largely dull encounter, Argentina have progressed past the Netherlands on penalties in their FIFA World Cup Semifinal clash.
With only one shot on target from either side in the first half, there was no sign of anything changing in the second as the match turned cagey and condensed as both sides were adamant not to make a mistake. As the game developed, extra time loomed, and although Dutch magician Arjen Robben had a grand chance to finish the Argentines off during injury time as he was played through on goal, fantastic defensive-midfielder Javier Mascherano slid in to prevent the Dutchman getting a shot away.
An extra 30 minutes resulted in the fans and viewers alike still having no indication of who would win, and so penalties were needed to decide which team would play Germany in the World Cup Final on Monday (NZST).
Step up, Sergio Romero.
The bulky Argentine goalkeeper pulled off two brilliant saves, first to deny Ron Vlaar and then to stop Wesley Sneijder’s shot, helping his side, who converted all of their penalties, sneak past a Dutch team that hadn’t scored a goal since their 94th minute winner against Mexico in the Round of 16. A thrilling finish to an encounter which lacked creativity and flair as both sides struggled to get going in cold and rainy conditions in São Paulo.
It may have been boring for the neutral, but nonetheless Argentina have huffed and puffed themselves past a defensive Dutch side, booking a trip to the legendary Maracana stadium in the process, and giving them the opportunity to make history in the largest city of their greatest sporting rivals.