Two goals in the final few minutes put the Netherlands through to the quarter-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ with a 2-1 victory over heartbroken Mexico in Fortaleza.
The team from CONCACAF were just two minutes from the last eight until Wesley Sneijder’s superb half-volley and a Klaas-Jan Huntelaar penalty put the Europeans through.
In the first game which required cooling breaks at Brazil 2014, the Oranje and El Tri began patiently. Miguel Layun had three efforts which went wide of Jasper Cillessen’s goal, while the Dutch’s rhythm was interrupted when midfielder Nigel de Jong was forced off after just nine minutes through injury.
Mexico could, and probably should have taken the lead shortly after the quarter-hour. Oribe Peralta’s pass left Hector Herrera stretching and his tame effort from the edge of the box rolled just wide of the post.
The game opened out a little in the closing stages of the first-half and only Cillessen’s knee stopped Giovani Dos Santos from scoring.
However, the Villarreal man was not to be denied three minutes after the restart. Ron Vlaar’s headed clearance dropped at the feet of the Mexico No10 on the edge of the box and he struck a sumptuous left-footed shot which crept inside the post.
It was in Fortaleza in which Guillermo Ochoa produced a series of fine saves to deny Brazil and he was on form again, showing superb reactions to turn Stefan De Vrij’s point-blank strike onto the post.
With the Netherlands pushing for an equaliser, the game opened up. Sneijder’s drive looked to be heading for the goal, but a committed block from Francisco Rodriguez ensured that Ochoa was not called into action.
One sensed that it would have taken something special to beat Ochoa and just when it seemed that time was ebbing away, the Dutch got the goal they so desperately craved. Two minutes from time, a corner from the left was headed down by substitute Huntelaar and Sneijder’s half-volley was firm and true.
There was still chance for drama during the six minutes of additional time. Arjen Robben was brought down in the area by Rafael Marquez and Huntelaar stepped up to take the responsibility. He sent Ochoa the wrong way to send the Netherlands into delirium and into the quarter-finals.