Netherlands vs. Mexico
The Dutch finally found the sweet spot in the heat of Fortaleza 40 minutes after Mexico went in front in the 48th minute. Giovanni Dos Santos gave El Tri the dream lead shortly after the half with a blistering shot to the corner. But the men in orange never lost composure. Klaas Jan Huntelaar entered the match in the 75th minute for the anonymous Robin van Persie and set up Wesley Sneider’s 88th minute rocket launch into the net. 1-1. With extra time just around the corner, Arjen Robben threw out the bait a third time and reeled in Rafael Márquez on the line. Marquez’ foot lingered just a nanosecond too long and Robben went down. Penalty awarded. Wasting no time, super-sub Huntelaar stepped up to take a shot that even the gifted Guillermo Ochoa couldn’t block. Netherlands 2, Mexico, just minutes from finally making it to the quarter-finals, 1 and done.
UmThe Greeks couldn’t get it done against a ten man Costa Rican side. Really? Costa Rica went one up in the 52nd minute against lackadaisical play by Greece, only to see a lapse in attention cost them a 90 minute equalizer. Where have I seen this before? Extra time, no goals, déjà vu, on to penalty kicks. Greece came up short in the PK department after looking surprisingly convincing to start. Costa Rica 5, Greece 3 on penalties (1-1 in regulation play)
Both France and Germany were up to the arduous task of beating the intrepid African nations of Nigeria and Algeria respectively, although not handily. The Germans looked especially pedantic and didnt create much until extra time when Schurrle finally broke the Algerian keeper in the 92nd minute. Mesut Ozil, who’s passing looked feckless throughout play, added a second in the 120th minute. The Algerians added to the tally sheet by putting one past world-class keeper Manuel Neuer, who was by far the best thing the Germans had going. Germany 2, Algeria 1
France didn’t show up until almost 80 minutes in and finally produced two goals through goaltending error. Not inspiring. France 2, Nigeria 0
Both European sides will have to improve exponentially or their dreams of making the semi’s will never materialize.