#WorldCupAtHome: Huntelaar ruins Mexican party
#WorldCupAtHome series continues with Netherlands-Mexico from Brazil 2014
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A look back at the thrilling last-16 encounter
Featuring two teams that had started strongly throughout the group phase, Netherlands and Mexico met in what proved to be a thrilling Round of 16 encounter in Fortaleza. Motivated to go one step further than South Africa 2010 when they finished runners-up, the Oranje ultimately found a way past Miguel Herrea's El Tri thanks to some late heroics courtesy of Wesley Sneijder and substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
Netherlands 2-1 Mexico 29 June 2014 Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
Netherlands (Wesley Sneijder 87', Klaas-Jan Huntelaar 90'+3 PEN) | Mexico (Giovani Dos Santos 47')
Netherlands: Jasper Cillessen, Ron Vlaar, Stefan de Vrij, Daley Blind, Paul Verhaegh (Memphis Depay 55'), Nigel de Jong (Bruno Martins Indi 8'), Wesley Sneijder, Georginio Wijnaldum, Robin van Persie (Klaas-Jan Huntelaar 75'), Arjen Robben, Dirk Kuyt
Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa, Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Salcido, Rafael Marquez, Miguel Layun, Hector Moreno (Diego Reyes 45'), Andres Guardado, Paul Aguilar, Hector Herrera Giovani Dos Santos (Javier Aquino 60'), Oribe Peralta (Javier Hernandez 74')
The Netherlands were one of four teams to complete the first phase of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ with the maximum nine points, topping Group B ahead of Spain, Chile and Australia.
Mexico, for their part, surprised some observers with their assured performances in Group A, in which they finished level on points with hosts Brazil. An emphatic 3-1 victory over Croatia in their final group game ensured confidence levels were high heading into the knockout stage.
Both teams started out with similar formations, deploying three at the back, five across midfield and two up front.
During the first half, the Dutch conceded a lot of possession to El Tri, appearing content to bide their time and try to hurt their opponents on the break.
However, Miguel Herrera’s side were solid at the back and went ahead early in the second half with a Giovani Dos Santos strike.
Ten minutes after the restart, Louis van Gaal withdrew his right-back Paul Verhaegh, replacing him with Memphis Depay, who was tasked with getting forward down the left flank. The switch unbalanced Mexico, allowing their opponents much more of the ball.
Three minutes before the end of regulation time, Wesley Sneijder restored parity by rifling in a low drive knocked back to him from a corner.
Finally, after Rafael Marquez fouled Arjen Robben inside the area, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar settled the tie from 12 yards to send his side through to the last eight.
With 15 minutes left of the 90, Van Gaal then replaced his captain Van Persie with Huntelaar. The Netherlands No.19, deadly in the box, had an immediate impact, creating problems for the Mexican defence as he looked to get on the end of crosses directed at him.
When his side were awarded a penalty deep in stoppage time, he showed nerves of steel to send Ochoa the wrong way with a sweet strike low to the keeper’s right.
What they said
"I think the team played very well for the entire World Cup. They did some very good things, but this bitter taste will stay with them. It’s obviously very frustrating. Our work was good, but we made mistakes. The Dutch did a great job withstanding us, and they continued to battle and managed to turn the game around." Miguel Herrera, Mexico coach
"I have to congratulate my players. I think they were much sharper and more focused than our opponents. They believed to the end, demonstrating faith and a lot of confidence. We took advantage of the water break to make a tactical change and created a lot of opportunities." Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal
What happened next
The Netherlands defeated Costa Rica on penalties in the quarter-finals (0-0, 4-3 PSO) before succumbing to Argentina in the semis, also on penalties (0-0, 2-4 PSO). In the end, the Oranje secured third place with three unanswered goals against hosts Brazil.