In the last minute of extra time Louis van Gaal took off Jasper Cillesen and put on Tim Krul in anticipation of penalties. The decision paid off when the Newcastle keeper saved from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana in the shoot-out to send the Netherlands through to a World Cup semi-final with Argentina.
The Netherlands had all the ball and virtually all the chances but a Costa Rica side who had made history simply by surviving to the quarter-final stage defended like heroes.
The Concacaf side had in Keylor Navas a goalkeeper who showed just why he is considered one of the tournament’s finest and a combination of his excellence, Dutch profligacy and the goalframe kept the game goalless until deep into extra time. It was at the Arena Fonte Nova that the Oranje had ripped Spain apart with their electric counterattacks in their first match but a venue which has seen more goals than any other at this World Cup now witnessed an entirely different kind of contest.
Van Gaal faced the conundrum of how to replace the injured Nigel de Jong and his response was to switch from 5-3-2 to 3-4-3 with Dirk Kuyt and Danny Blind playing as wing-backs and Memphis Depay, the PSV Eindhoven forward, joining Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie in a front three.
The two wing-backs fashioned the first chance of note after 22 minutes. Depay burst forward on the counter and fed Kuyt out on the right who picked out his team-mate in the D with a clever return ball. When Depay slipped it in turn to Van Persie on the left side of the box, it looked the kind of chance the Manchester United striker would gobble up but Keylor Navas came out to narrow the angle and made the save before dealt comfortably with Wesley Sneijder’s follow-up.
Source: The Independent