World Cup Roundup: Costa Rica advances with shootout victory over Greece

Associated Press Published:

COSTA RICA 1 (5), GREECE 1 (3)

RECIFE, Brazil -- With his team down to 10 men for nearly an hour, Keylor Navas made sure Costa Rica's last line of defense held firm.

The goalkeeper came through with a string of stops in regulation and extra time and then made the only save in a penalty shootout to send Costa Rica through to the World Cup quarterfinals on Sunday with a win over Greece.

After Navas dived to his right to push out the effort by Theofanis Gekas, Costa Rica defender Michael Umana scored the decisive spot kick for a 5-3 win in the shootout, sending the team sprinting down the pitch to embrace its goalkeeper. The game had finished 1-1 following extra time, after Greece equalized in second-half injury time.

"It was only a dream for us, a dream that became a reality," Navas said. "A dream that was dreamt by an entire country."

Costa Rica will play one of the tournament favorites the Netherlands in the quarterfinals on Saturday in a surprising appearance in the last eight for the small country that has a quarter of the population of Brazil's biggest city and which hardly anyone picked to even make it past the group stage.

"To the entire people in Costa Rica, those at home and out on the streets, this is for you," Costa Rica's Colombian coach Jorge Luis Pinto said. "This is a people that love football and they deserve it. ... We will continue fighting. We will go on. We see beautiful things."

The victory also delighted the majority of the just over 41,000 fans in Recife as the Brazilian locals shouted for Costa Rica throughout the game and often broke out into chants of "Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Ticos!" -- using the common nickname for Costa Ricans.

Greece was often booed.

Costa Rica went ahead in the 52nd minute with a coolly taken goal by captain Bryan Ruiz, but the game changed when Oscar Duarte clumsily lunged at Greece's Jose Halebos in the 66th and was sent off with a second yellow card.

Pouring forward, the Greeks did beat Navas in injury time when defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos smashed in a rebound to make the team's numerical advantage eventually pay. Yet Navas kept denying the Greeksd through extra time and then, crucially, when he dived, threw up a hand and pushed Gekas' spot-kick away at the end.

"Obviously he has to be congratulated," Greece coach Fernando Santos said of Costa Rica's 'keeper. "If it weren't for (him), the results would have been different."

Santos had been sent to the stands by Australian referee Ben Williams just before the penalties and said he watched the shootout on a television inside the stadium.

"Sadness," he said of Greece's elimination and his last game in charge of the team. "Definitely sadness. Not much (else) goes through your mind at that time."

NETHERLANDS 2, MEXICO 1

FORTALEZA, Brazil -- The Dutch were worried about the oppressive heat at Arena Castelao, and they left it with the stifling hot conditions to thank for a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals.

An inspired tactical change during the second of two official stoppages led to a late goal from Netherlands forward Wesley Sneijder and an injury-time penalty from Klaas Jan Huntelaar in a dramatic 2-1 victory over Mexico on Sunday.

"I moved to 'Plan B' at the cooling break," said Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, soon to be the manager at Manchester United. "That is a good way to take advantage of those breaks."

Despite scoring 10 goals in three group matches, the Dutch again started the match with a defensive 5-3-2 system. Van Gaal made the switch to a more attacking 4-3-3 formation in the second half and tweaked it further when referee Pedro Proenca stopped the match in the 76th minute to allow players to rehydrate.

That helped turn the match around and extend Mexico's second-round curse to six straight World Cups.

"Unbelievable," said Arjen Robben, the Netherlands forward that earned the late penalty. "Five minutes from full time, we were out."

Instead of the Dutch players, it was the Mexicans who wilted in the heat as they conceded twice as many goals in the final minutes of the match as they had in the entire group stage.

"The humidity was against us, but we were fresher and fitter than the Mexicans," Van Gaal said. "Yes, we escaped. But we showed that we could create more chances with 4-3-3, and the players handled this shift very well."

The Dutch will next face Costa Rica in the quarterfinals on Saturday in Salvador, and may have to play without midfielder Nigel de Jong, who was substituted in the ninth minute with a groin injury.

Mexico coach Miguel Herrera, one of the most popular characters at the World Cup because of his emotive ways on the sidelines, blamed Proenca for the loss and accused Robben of diving under a challenge from Rafael Marquez to earn the penalty.

"Today it was the man with the whistle who eliminated us from the World Cup," Herrera said. "If a referee invents a penalty, you're out of the World Cup.

"I hope they have a look at what happened and that this gentleman goes home just like we are."

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