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World Cup 2014
 

Netherlands 2 Mexico 1: Highlights, key battles, and what this result means

Published on Jun 30, 2014 2:58 AM
 
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar taking the penalty in added time that helped Netherlands to a 2-1 win over Mexico.  

It was heart-stopping, it wasn't pretty, and it certainly was cruel for a deserving Mexican side. But Netherlands got it done in the end. Trailing one goal in the dying minutes of the match, the Oranje somehow found an extra gear to win 2-1 despite struggling more with the heat and humidity.

Louis Van Gaal's men completed a late comeback, scoring two in six minutes - one from a penalty kick awarded in stoppage time - to earn a place in the quarter-finals.

El Tri, led by another inspired and another out-of-this-world performance from goalie Guillermo Ochoa, pressed hard and came close to knocking out the 2010 finalists through a brilliant goal from Giovani Dos Santos.

Instead, they were confined to heartbreak, and their sixth elimination at this stage since 1994.

Highlights

- Mexico were clearly the better side right off the blocks, dominating play and threatening several times down the left flank through Miguel Layun. 
First real chance came in the 17th minute, when Dos Santos brings down a ball in the box and plays it to Oribe Peralta, who finds Hector Herrera. Final shot goes inches wide of the post.

- Mexico have a couple more chances, including a long shot from Carlos Salcido and attempts from Peralta. Dutch goalie Jasper Cillessen haven't been too convincing all match but stayed lucky to scramble his way out of danger.

- Terrible giveaway from captain Rafael Marquez just minutes from the end of the first half dangerously gives Netherlands the chance to pounce on the coutner. Robin van Persie picks up the straying ball and delivers it to partner in crime Arjen Robben, who went down in the box. 
Looked for a penalty and replays show Hector Moreno might have had contact with Robben's legs in trying to clear the ball, but none is given.

- Dos Santos breaks the deadlock three minute after the restart, chesting a pass down and blasting it past Cillessen with a half-volley while holding back Daley Blind.

- Netherland, in the hunt for an equaliser, step up the pace and this is when the Ochoa show starts. The Dutch forces several world-class saves from the Mexican keeper, who tipped the ball onto the post from a corner kick, then taking Robben on to deny his run into the box. A third save wouldn't have counted because Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was ruled offside, but still superb reflexes from Ochoa.

- Wesley Sneijder finds the equaliser for the Oranje three minutes from full-time. Fires a rocket into the net after a corner kick was headed down by Huntelaar.

- Drama in the game's dying minutes as a penalty kick is awarded to Netherlands, after Robben was taken down by a lingering foot from Marquez in the box. It could be argued, however, that Robben was a little theatrical in his fall despite the contact. Huntelaar calmly sends his team into the quarter-finals with the spot kick.

Key battles

Van Persie/Robben/Huntelaar v Mexican defence
This was the top-scoring team of the World Cup so far up against the side with a joint-best defence. Unstoppable attack versus immovable defence. Flying goalie versus Flying Dutchman.

Something had to give, but for the majority of the match, the lethal partnership of van Persie and Robben were finely stifled by the Mexican defence.

The tactical genius and boldness of Van Gaal in taking off Van Persie for Huntelaar provided the Dutch attack with fresher legs, greater bite, and eventually the lead that they needed.

Dos Santos/Peralta/Hector Herrera v Ron Vlaar/Stefan De Vrij
Peralta and Dos Santos combined well, capitalising on the high line that the Dutch defence were playing. Layun, in particular, was able to beat Paul Verhaegh several times to send several dangerous crosses in. Netherlands were lucky to not have conceded more earlier.

Man of the Match

Guillermo Ochoa

Proved that his sublime performance in holding off Brazil in the group stages was not a fluke, making the crucial saves today that kept Mexico in the hunt as long as they did. Undone by late drama in the end, but Sneijder's drive was too good to be stopped. 
Excellent positioning, lightning quick reflexes, and the best goalkeeper of the tournament by a long mile. It's a huge pity, and the loss of all World Cup followers, that the feats of Ochoa ends here.

What this result means

Netherlands book their spot in the quarter-finals, and will play the winner of Costa Rica/Greece. 

Mexico continue their search of a quarter-final berth at the World Cup finals, having been halted at this stage for six straight tournaments now.

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