Argentina narrowly pass the Dutch on penalties to set up a tasty semi-final tie against Croatia
After Brazil were knocked out 4-2 on penalties, a semi-final tie versus Croatia awaited the winner of tonight’s match.
Reigning Copa America winners Argentina will always hold a threat with 7-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.
However, the Netherlands have their own weapon in young striker Cody Gakpo. The youngster has had a breakthrough tournament so far, with 3 goals in 4 games, and has attracted attention from some huge clubs including Manchester United.
And there was an added element after Di Maria had, earlier in the week, called Dutch manager Louis Van Gaal the worst manager he’s ever had.
It was a slow start from both teams but Argentina did slightly edge it in the first-half, and they were the first to find the breakthrough. Messi drove through the Dutch midfield and his no-look pass found Molina’s run and he was able to poke it past Noppert to score his first goal for his country.
The game then returned to feeling very lethargic and it would remain like that until the half-time whistle.
Argentina may go into the break 1-0 up, but many fans will be hoping for both teams to show a little bit more in the following forty five.
Both teams certainly seemed to have been given some motivation at half-time as, they both started much more brightly in the second half.
However, some attention was soon turned away from the football and onto the referee, when it appeared he deliberately waived away claims of a yellow card for Lionel Messi.
Messi continued to cause the Dutch defence problems and he had a free kick just inches away from going in.
Argentina continued to dominate and Acuña won a penalty for the South American side, after Dumfries put in a silly foul on the wing-back.
If it was ever in question, Lionel Messi once again silenced the doubters and scored his 4th goal of the tournament.
The Netherlands were able to get themselves back in the game though. Substitutes Berghuis and Weghorst combined, and the striker beat Manchester United’s Lisandro Martínez to score with their first shot on target of the game.
The Dutch were then on a hunt for an equaliser, Gakpo’s ball was fired in by Luuk de Jong and it was just wide into the side netting.
Soon the referee’s authority was once again called into question, after a Paredes foul, and shot into the Dutch bench, caused players, subs and coaches of both teams to get involved in a scrap. Fortunately the referee did seem to get to the right decision in the end, awarding a yellow card to Paredes, but the Argentinian could have easily seen red for two yellow cards, with the heavy foul on Aké and the shot of the ball into the Dutch bench.
After all that chaos the Netherlands were then given the news that they had 10 minutes to find an equaliser if they wanted to take the game to extra-time.
The Dutch were doing everything they could to find the late equaliser, reigning in balls over the Argentinian defence.
Weghorst won a free-kick for the Dutch right at the end of injury time. Goalkeeper Noppert could barely watch. The irony is Messi was cautioned in that free-kick being awarded, which should have been a second yellow and a red for the Argentinian number 10.
It would be the Dutch who gave the world another memorable World Cup memory.
Koopmeiners put the ball in low to the box and Weghorst was there to turn and shoot past Martínez to keep the hopes alive for the Netherlands and take the game, deservedly, to extra-time.
There was more unrest at the end of normal time, but the Dutch were unlikely to care. They had another 30 minutes to try and find a way to seal a semi-final tie versus Croatia
Extra-time started slowly again for both teams, but even with incredible chances for Fernández the game was once again overshadowed by the bizarre behaviour of Spanish referee Antonio Lahoz.
HT (ET): 2-2
It was all Argentina then for the last few minutes of the game with Di Maria, Messi and Fernández all nearly winning it, but Noppert, and a little bit of help from the goalpost, meant that the Netherlands managed to hang on and take the game to a penalty shootout.
FT (ET): 2-2
Van Dijk - Saved
Berghuis - Saved
Koopmeiners - Scores
Weghorst - Scores
L.de Jong - Scores
Messi - Scores
Paredes - Scores
Montiel - Scores
Fernández - Misses
Lautaro Martínez - Scores
Despite the Netherlands' best efforts, the World Cup dream was kept alive for Messi and Argentina, who will look forward to a semi-final against Luka Modrić and Croatia on Tuesday.
Netherlands: Noppert, Timber, van Dijk, Aké, Dumfries, de Roon (46), F.de Jong, Blind (64), Gakpo (113), Depay (78), Bergwijn (46)
Subs: Pasveer, de Ligt, de Vrij, L.de Jong (64), Berghuis (46), Lang (113), Bijlow, Klaassen, Malacia, Janssen, Weghorst (78), Koopmeiners (46), Taylor, Simons, Frimpong
Argentina: E.Martínez, Molina (105), Romero (78), Otamendi, Lisandro Martínez (112), Acuña (78), De Paul (66), Fernández, Mac Allister, Álvarez (82), Messi
Subs: Armani, Foyth, Tagliafico (78), Montiel (105), Paredes (66), Pezzella (78), Di María (112), Rulli, Correa, Almada, Papu Gómez, Rodríguez, Dybala, Lautaro Martínez (82)