Netherlands, Costa Rica advance in World Cup

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Netherlands’ midfielder Wesley Sneijder (R) shoots the ball during a Round of 16 football match between the Netherlands and Mexico at Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. AFP PHOTO

Netherlands’ midfielder Wesley Sneijder (R) shoots the ball during a Round of 16 football match between the Netherlands and Mexico at Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. AFP PHOTO

RECIFE, Brazil: Wesley Sneijder and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar led a late Dutch fightback to sink Mexico and reach the World Cup quarterfinals on Sunday (Monday in Manila) as Costa Rica advanced with a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Greece.

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A controversial injury-time penalty won by Arjen Robben saw Holland snatch a 2-1 victory over Mexico in Fortaleza before the Central American minnows defeated Greece 5-3 on penalties in Recife to reach the last eight for the first time.

Bayern Munich star Robben, who is often accused of going to ground too easily, tumbled to the turf in injury time after a tackle by Mexico’s Rafael Marquez.

Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca pointed to the spot and stepped up to bury the winning penalty.

It came just moments after Sneijder had scored an 88th-minute equalizer to cancel out Giovani dos Santos’s superb goal for Mexico.

The epic finale settled a second round battle played in furnace-like conditions at Fortaleza’s Castelao Stadium.

Mexico coach Miguel Herrera lashed out at referee Proenca for awarding the penalty.

“The determining factor was the man with the whistle. He put us of the World Cup,” Herrera said.

But Robben did admit to a dive in an unsuccessful attempt to win a penalty earlier in the first half.

The Dutch fightback left Mexico’s players in tears as their last 16 jinx struck again.

Holland now face Costa Rica in Salvador on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) after the Central Americans defeated Greece.

Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas was the hero, saving Greece’s fourth penalty from Fanis Gekas before Michael Umana stepped up to convert the winning spot-kick for “Los Ticos.”

A lacklustre game at the Pernambuco Arena saw Costa Rica take the lead on 52 minutes through captain Bryan Ruiz.

Christian Bolanos picked out Ruiz on the edge of the area, and the 28-year-old striker coolly placed his finish in the bottom corner beyond Orestis Karnezis.

AFP

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