The Netherlands go through to the quarter-final of the FIFA World Cup after defeating Mexico 2 to 1 on Sunday afternoon.
Mexico held the lead for nearly 40 minutes of the second half and were just minutes away from the quarterfinals. However, Wesley Sneijder had different ideas when he put his head over the ball and drove a bullet of a volley past Ochoa in the Mexican goal to level matters in the 88th minute.
From there the Dutch continued pressing the Mexicans, and earned their winner in the 94th minute when Klaas Jan Huntelaar converted from the penalty spot, following a Rafael Marquez foul on Arjen Robben.
The Dutch were forced to use one of their precious subs early when Nigel De Jong limped off after just eight minutes. The Mexicans looked the much livelier of the threats for the next 22 minutes of the first half, testing Jasper Cillessen’s goal numerous times. Then came the water break, one of two, which the referee would mandate during the game because of the blistering heat. The temperature was 87 degrees, and had a real feel of around 105 degrees. Humidity was around 68 percent, making breathing difficult. The first half continued after the water break, with neither team carving out any real chances.
Mexico came out in the second half with real intent, and Giovanni Dos Santos hit a screamer similar to James Rodriguez’s effort against Uruguay. The strike was off a turn, with his left foot, and was driller low and hard, skipping off the turf on its way to beating Cillessen. The Dutch keeper had no chance to get down to the Mexican’s strike, and Miguel Herrera showed his approval for his star forwards strike with another wild celebration which has made him an internet sensation during this tournament.
Following the Dos Santos strike, the Mexicans became all too comfortable with defending. They resorted to becoming a defensive shell and allowed the Dutch to press them for the remainder of the game. The game would have been equalized much earlier had it not been for the brilliant efforts of Ochoa in the Mexican goal. He made numerous saves and thwarted the Dutch attack for much of the game. None came better than his miraculous save on Stefan de Vrij, when the Dutch defender headed from close in, and the Mexican keeper somehow turned the effort on to the bar. Ochoa was brilliant for El Tri, as he has been for the entirety of the tournament.
However, the Dutch finally broke the deadlock in the 88th minute through their tournament specialist Wesley Sneijder, who drove an unstoppable volley past Ochoa. Sneljder was able to latch on to the knock down of Klaas Jan Huntelaar and drive it through the Mexican net. Huntelaar came on for the ineffective Robin Van Persie who continued his knockout round curse at the World Cup. The Dutchman has now failed to score in six knockout round games on the biggest stage. The Dutch continued to press, and Arjen Robben forced Ochoa into another brilliant stop.
Then came the controversial moment — was it a penalty? Arjen Robben at first glance seemed to be struck by the leg of Rafael Marquez and a penalty seemed the right decision. Upon closer inspection, contact was minimal and Robben appeared to make a meal of the challenge. The Dutch were awarded a penalty nonetheless and Huntelaar converted it to end Mexico’s dreams. The Dutch go through to the quarterfinals to face the winner of Costa Rica vs. Greece.
For Mexico, it is definitely a lost opportunity. They played so well at the tournament, having only conceded one goal during the whole of the group stage, and they held the advantage on the Dutch for so long. It wasn’t to be for El Tri, or Miguel Herrera as they are eliminated yet again at the round of 16. They leave this tournament, however, with their heads held high, as they came into the tournament needing a playoff victory against New Zealand just to qualify for the tournament.