Robben crushes Mexico's quarterfinal dreams as the Netherlands advances
The Mexican national team has been eliminated from the World Cup at the hands of the Netherlands. 'El Tri' dominated and controlled the entire match and then came undone at the end when Arjen Robben fell in the box and a controversial penalty kick call was awarded with a couple of minutes left on the clock. Klas-Jan Huntelaar converted the penalty kick and left Mexico with no opportunity to undo the damage.
The match started off with the Mexican national team dominating possession of the ball and the game in general. The Dutch looked like the heat was wearing them down right from the start and focused on holding Mexico's attack back.
Left wing-back Miguel Layun cut inside and had two shots off target in the early minutes, but it gave the Mexican fans the early opportunity to scream the traditional chant. The main player taking control of the team was midfielder Hector Herrera who dribbled through defenders, spreading the ball to his teammates and even had a chance himself inside the box.
Besides the early pressure from the opposition, the Netherlands faced more bad news as midfielder Nigel de Jong had to be subbed out in the eighth minute. Concussion victim Bruno Martins Indi was brought on to replace him.
Mexico continued their relentless pressure on the Dutch team. In the 25th minute, Carlos Salcido fired a shot from a little over 25 yards out; Jasper Cillessen, who up until then had looked shaky between the three posts, was able to get his hands on the ball and send it to corner kick.
Three minutes later the Netherlands' most dangerous weapon showed up via a long pass over the defenders' heads to Robin Van Persie. The Man Utd striker could not make a clean reception and the ball fell to his weaker right foot and thus his shot went well wide.
Moments before halftime, "El Tri" had a huge a slip in the middle of the field as the team tried to play the ball out of defense causing a dangerous one-on-one play between Robben and the Mexican defense. Hector Moreno sprinted back to help, and ended up sliding into Robben. The action should have been a penalty for the Netherlands.
In the play Moreno injured his knee and had to be relieved by the medical staff. He would be replaced by young Porto FC defender Diego Reyes.
The second half started with Mexico pressuring just as much as the entire first half, and they found their just reward. Three minutes in, Giovani Dos Santos, with a defender on top of him, blasted a shot from 20 yards and placed it into the bottom corner of the goal to give Mexico the one-goal lead.
The Netherlands after conceding the goal picked up the urgency and pushed forward. In the 57th minute De Vrij came with a dangerous header from a corner kick and forced more heroics from goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa similar to the late save on Brazil's Thiago Silva.
Van Gaal's men kept pushing Mexico back desperately for an equalizer. Robben in the 74th minute ran past Rafael Marquez and fired a shot from point blank range and once again found Ochoa on his way.
Mexico looked to see out the final minutes, but in the 86th minute Wesley Sneijder found a loose ball at the top of the box and slammed the ball into the bottom corner leaving everyone standing. Minutes later, Robben got by the Mexican defenders on the right, found the end-line and cut back inside with his trademark move. The Dutchman felt the pressure from Marquez and dragged his foot to clash with the Mexican defender. The Portuguese referee did not hesitate and awarded the Netherlands a penalty kick that Klaas Jan Huntalaar converted for the game winner.
The Netherlands will meet Costa Rica in Salvador on July 5th for the World Cup quarterfinals.