The final is set! After Germany stomped Brazil yesterday, Argentina put forth a valiant effort on July 9 to defeat the Netherlands 4-2 on penalty kicks and advance to the World Cup final.
After Germany blew out Brazil 7-1 in the first semifinal on July 8, it was almost a guarantee that the other match between Netherlands and Argentina would be closer, and sure enough, it was a nail-biter. It came down to the wire, with Argentina thrillingly pulling past the Netherlands to win the match on penalty kicks, 4-2.
Argentina Wins World Cup Semifinal In Penalty Kicks
Both teams didn’t make too much of an effort to take risks in the first half (anyone who’s watched the Netherlands in the knockout phase likely recognized this style of play), with both teams making feeble crosses into the box but never really threatening goal.
The scoreless bout continued into the second half, and though both teams pushed a little harder — Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain actually appeared to score a goal, but the ball went just wide — neither could score by the time 90 minutes was up. With the score still 0-0, the game went into extra time.
It was more of the same for most of extra time — chances that fizzled out into nothing — and with neither team being able to score, penalty kicks were required. Talk about intense.
With a trip to the World Cup final on the line, Argentina was simply just a tad better — Lionel Messi, Ezequiel Garay, Sergio Aguero, and Maxi Rodriguez all scored, and goalkeeper Sergio Romero made enough saves, two, to lead the team to victory.
Argentina & Netherlands’ Roads To The Semifinals
This was a seriously marquee matchup — one of the best in Europe going up against one of the best in South America. Both teams had proven themselves leading up to the semifinal. On the back of a historic performance by Lionel Messi, Argentina won all three of their group stage matches, and then won close games against Switzerland and Belgium in the knockout phase.
The Netherlands also won all three of their group matches, though their run in the knockout stage was a little more shaky. The Oranje was just minutes away from being knocked out in the Round of 16 by Mexico before a Wesley Sneijder goal tied the match, and a late penalty kick shockingly won it. The Dutch then lumbered through their quarterfinal match against Costa Rica before winning it in penalty kicks.
Someone had to lose eventually — it just wasn’t the Netherlands’ day. Now Argentina will go up against the intimidating Team Germany on July 13 for the World Cup final. It is the team’s first appearance in the final since they finished as runners-up in 1990.
— Andrew Gruttadaro