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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 21 November, 2018
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Breakfast at Bebeto's: All you need to know from last night’s World Cup action

The Oranje crushed Costa Rica (on penalties) and Argentina fortified their position in enemy territory.

LAST NIGHT WE waved goodbye to the Belgians and gave every last one of that Costa Rican squad a big tearful hug.

We’re down to four World Cup teams and (sniff) just four games remain at the greatest show on earth.

Brazil Soccer WCup Argentina Belgium Source: Martin Meissner

The Netherlands needed 120 minutes plus penalties before they could finally wriggle clear of Costa Rica and into the semi-finals.

The Oranje threw everything at the South Americans during a dramatic two hours, but Keylor Navas continued his marvellous form in this World Cup to, somehow, keep Holland at bay.

Brazil Soccer WCup Netherlands Costa Rica Source: Matt Dunham

Navas was denied his moment in the limelight, however, as Tim Krul made it easy for all od us to write headlines. The Newcastle ‘keeper came off the bench late in extra-time and was unleashed to save two penalties from a Costa Rican side who were beginning to look indestructible.

The earlier game saw Argentina claim the first berth in the second semi-final. Gonzalo Higuain’s glorious snapshot volley allowing them follow the script of Friday’s quarter-final, holding  Belgium at arm’s length to push their behind-enemy-lines operation into an even stronger position.

Winner

Not for the first time, we’re giving the gong to Louis Van Gaal today. Had Holland failed to get past Costa Rica there would have been serious criticism of the coach, but he sent out a team that created a host of chances.

APTOPI XBrazil Soccer WCup Netherlands Costa Rica Source: Natacha Pisarenko

And, when the chips really went down, he showed he had had the foresight to pre-plan a penalty shoot-out strategy and was brave enough to follow through on it by sending Tim Krul onto the field seconds before the final whistle in extra-time.

Loser

On paper there’s no great shame in losing to Argentina, but Belgium will board their flight home wondering how they allowed a flawed (admittedly with one untouchable talent) side shorn of a potent counter-attacking weapon off the hook so lightly.

Brazil Soccer WCup Argentina Belgium Source: Frank Augstein

Marc Wilmots talked an aggressive game pre-match, and his players were emotional after the final whistle. But during the contest they looked like a side lacking belief that they actually had what it took to knock out the two-time World Champions.

Joga Bonito

The weight on this pass almost made the entire football world faint yesterday afternoon.

https://vine.co/v/MUQQmUiIFJu

What we’ve got to look forward to today

Nada. You might as well go hibernate until semi-final Tuesday.

Twitter was loving Brian Kerr’s commentary for Argentina-Belgium

Krul exit for Costa Rica as Netherlands hold their nerve to reach World Cup semi-final

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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