Tuesday 28 July 2015

Sergio Romero the hero as Argentina and Messi head to the final after penalty drama

Paul Hirst

Published 10/07/2014 | 00:04

Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates defeating the Netherlands in a shootout during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between the Netherlands and Argentina at Arena de Sao Paulo
Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates defeating the Netherlands in a shootout during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between the Netherlands and Argentina at Arena de Sao Paulo
Sergio Romero of Argentina saves the penalty kick of Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands (not pictured) in a shootout during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between the Netherlands and Argentina at Arena de Sao Paulo
Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen of the Netherlands reacts after being defeated by Argentina in a penalty shootout as Argentina celebrates during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between the Netherlands and Argentina at Arena de Sao Paulo
Lionel Messi and Lucas Biglia of Argentina celebrate defeating the Netherlands in a shootout during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between the Netherlands and Argentina at Arena de Sao Paulo
Lionel Messi, Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Marcos Rojo, Lucas Biglia, Javier Mascherano, Rodrigo Palacio and Ezequiel Garay of Argentina celebrate defeating the Netherlands in a shootout during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between the Netherlands and Argentina at Arena de Sao Paulo
Lionel Messi, Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Marcos Rojo, Lucas Biglia, Javier Mascherano, Rodrigo Palacio and Ezequiel Garay of Argentina celebrate defeating the Netherlands in a shootout during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between the Netherlands and Argentina at Arena de Sao Paulo
Argentina's goalkeeper Sergio Romero reacts after saving a goal attempt from Ron Vlaar of the Netherlands during a penalty shoot-out during their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Argentina's Lionel Messi shoots to score his penalty past Jasper Cillessen of the Netherlands during their shootout in their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Netherlands' national soccer players react as teammate Ron Vlaar misses an opportunity to score a goal against Argentina during a penalty shoot-out at their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Argentina's Sergio Romero (L) saves the penalty of Ron Vlaar of the Netherlands during their shootout in their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Argentina's goalkeeper Sergio Romero celebrates after saving a penalty kick by Ron Vlaar of the Netherlands during the penalty shootout in their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Argentina's Lionel Messi (L) fights for the ball with Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands during extra time in their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal reacts as Robin van Persie (rear C) and goalkeeper Tim Krul (rear R) are seen on the bench during extra time in their 2014 World Cup semi-finals against Argentina at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Netherlands' Robin van Persie walks past manager Louis van Gaal (left) as he is substituted during the FIFA World Cup Semi Final at the Arena de Sao Paulo
Argentina's goalkeeper Sergio Romero saves a penalty kick by Ron Vlaar of the Netherlands during the penalty shootout in their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Netherlands' Robin van Persie shows his frustration late in the game during the FIFA World Cup Semi Final at the Arena de Sao Paulo
Robin van Persie (C) of the Netherlands is challenged by Argentina's Martin Demichelis during their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Argentina's Javier Mascherano (floor) after a clash of heads with Netherlands' Georginio Wijnaldum during the FIFA World Cup Semi Final at the Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal (2nd L) gestures as he is surrounded by his players Arjen Robben (L), Dirk Kuyt (2nd R) and Georginio Wijnaldum during their 2014 World Cup semi-finals against Argentina at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Argentina's Martin Demichelis (R) kicks the ball beside Robin van Persie of the Netherlands during their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Argentina's Martin Demichelis (L) and Ezequiel Garay (R) fight for the ball against Arjen Robben of the Netherlands during their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Argentina's Lionel Messi is challenged by Daley Blind of the Netherlands during their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Dirk Kuyt of the Netherlands and Argentina's Enzo Perez (bottom) fall during their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Dirk Kuyt of the Netherlands fights for the ball with Argentina's Martin Demichelis and Ezequiel Garay during their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Argentina's Lionel Messi (R) takes a free kick near Netherlands' players (L-2nd R) Nigel de Jong, Robin van Persie, Stefan de Vrij, Ron Vlaar and Bruno Martins Indi during their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen of the Netherlands makes a save on a free kick by Argentina's Lionel Messi (unseen) during their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Dirk Kuyt of the Netherlands reacts during their 2014 World Cup semi-finals against Argentina at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Ron Vlaar of the Netherlands fights for the ball with Argentina's Ezequiel Garay during their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Robin van Persie (L) of the Netherlands fights for the ball with Argentina's Ezequiel Garay during their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Netherland's fans watch the 2014 World Cup semi-finals against Argentina at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Bruno Martins Indi (L) of the Netherlands fouls Argentina's Lionel Messi during their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen of the Netherlands makes a save in front of Argentina's Marcos Rojo and Ezequiel Garay (L) during their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Arjen Robben of the Netherlands reacts after a missed chance during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between the Netherlands and Argentina at Arena de Sao Paulo
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JULY 09: Robin van Persie of the Netherlands reacts during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between the Netherlands and Argentina at Arena de Sao Paulo
Ezequiel Lavezzi of Argentina challenges Bruno Martins Indi of the Netherlands during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between the Netherlands and Argentina at Arena de Sao Paulo
Sergio Romero of Argentina looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between the Netherlands and Argentina at Arena de Sao Paulo
Lionel Messi of Argentina and Daley Blind of the Netherlands compete for the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between the Netherlands and Argentina at Arena de Sao Paulo
Marcos Rojo of Argentina challenges Daryl Janmaat of the Netherlands during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between the Netherlands and Argentina at Arena de Sao Paulo

Argentina are just 90 minutes away from lifting the World Cup in the Maracana after they edged past Holland on penalties in Wednesday's semi-final at the Arena Corinthians.

After a dull, uneventful and goalless 120 minutes, the match went to a penalty shootout in Sao Paulo.

Argentina did not miss once and Sergio Romero saved from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder, meaning Alejandro Sabella's team clinched the showdown 4-2.

Argentina will now face Germany in Sunday's World Cup final at the Maracana - the spiritual home of their fierce rivals Brazil, who were brutally knocked out by Germany on Tuesday night.

The last time the Argentines made it through to the final in 1990, they lost to the Germans.

Germany, who battered Brazil 7-1 in Belo Horizonte, will take encouragement from watching this performance from Sabella's side.

Lionel Messi scored one of the penalty kicks, but he was otherwise quiet and Argentina failed to impress all night.

Louis van Gaal did well to snuff out Messi during normal time, but his team were also devoid of ideas in attack.

Van Gaal will now take charge of Holland in Saturday's third-place play-off against the hosts before flying to England to take over at Manchester United.

The Dutchman may regret deciding against bringing on Tim Krul, who saved two penalties against Costa Rica in the previous round, as Jasper Cillessen was easily beaten from 12 yards.

After a mad opening half an hour in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday, both teams started cautiously on a cold night.

Messi drilled a low free-kick right at Cillessen and Ezequiel Garay headed just over for Argentina, but nothing else of note happened in the first period.

After the break, Argentina briefly upped the tempo. Vlaar blocked Messi as he advanced towards goal and substitute Daryl Janmaat denied Gonzalo Higuain.

Nigel de Jong, a surprise starter, was struggling to keep up with the game and he came off for Jordy Klasie with 28 minutes left.

Lucas Biglia and Janmaat both needed treatment after sliding into each other in a nasty challenge that made Argentina coach Sabella wince on the touchline.

There was no inkling of a goal until the final minute of normal time when Enzo Perez dashed down the right and delivered a pinpoint low cross to Higuain, who turned the ball inches wide.

The Argentina fans who saw the net ripple thought they had finally seen a goal, but the referee awarded a goal-kick.

That proved to be Higuain's last contribution as he was replaced by Sergio Aguero. Sabella also threw on Rodrigo Palacio to boost his attack.

A few errant tackles started flying in as the game became sloppy. Martin Demichelis, already on a booking, took out Robben but the referee kept his cards in his pocket.

All of a sudden Holland were presented with a chance to win the game.

Sneijder glanced a diagonal pass into the path of Robben, but luckily for Argentina, Mascherano came to the rescue and the game went to extra-time.

In the 98th minute Holland mustered their first shot on target, an effort from Robben that flew into Romero's hands.

In his final substitution, Van Gaal brought Klaas-Jan Huntelaar on for Robin van Persie, meaning Krul would not be allowed on for the inevitable penalty shootout.

Cillessen jangled the nerves of the Holland fans when he performed an audacious turn to wriggle away from the advancing Aguero at the start of the second half of extra-time.

Sabella was incensed with Palacio when he tried - and failed - to head over Cillessen from 10 yards in the dying minutes of extra-time.

Dirk Kuyt fluffed a good chance at the other end and the match went to penalties.

Romero saved straight away from Vlaar.

Messi, Garay and Aguero found the net while Romero saved to his right from Sneijder.

Dirk Kuyt slotted Holland's fourth penalty away, but Maxi Rodriguez then beat Cillessen to send Argentina through to the final.

Read More

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport