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ARGENTINA 1, BELGIUM 0
BRASILIA, Brazil -- Gonzalo Higuain's first goal of this World Cup sent Argentina into the semifinals on Saturday with a 1-0 win over a disappointing Belgium.
Argentina, which hadn't advanced past the World Cup quarterfinals since 1990, controlled the match after Higuain's eighth-minute goal, more due to disciplined defending than sparkling attack.
The Napoli striker fired home Angel Di Maria's deflected pass just inside the area, beating Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with a low shot to the far corner of the goal as he turned.
"Since the first game of this World Cup I said I was calm, that the goals would come. It came and at an important moment," Higuain said. "It's been so many years since we made it to the semifinals. Now we did."
Higuain came close to making it 2-0 in the second half when his shot smashed into the crossbar. Lionel Messi missed a chance to score his fifth goal of the tournament when he failed to beat Courtois on a counterattack in stoppage time.
Belgium lacked the creativity to find a way past Argentina's disciplined defense, and created few clear chances apart from a pair of headers by Kevin Mirallas and Marouane Fellaini.
Belgium's most creative player, Eden Hazard, had little impact on the game beyond receiving a yellow card for a studs-first challenge on Lucas Biglia. Hazard cut a disconsolate figure as he was substituted by Nacer Chadli in the 75th.
Argentina's next opponent will be the winner of the last quarterfinal between the Netherlands and Costa Rica, who were playing later Saturday in Salvador.
Long after the game, thousands of Argentine fans flocked to one section of the Estadio Nacional to celebrate the team's best World Cup performance in 24 years.
"They played an excellent match," Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said of his team. "After 24 years, we can be among the four best teams in the world. At least we lived up to the minimum objective."
Argentina was knocked out in the quarterfinals in the previous two World Cups, both times by Germany. The last time it reached the semifinals was in Italy 1990, when Diego Maradona led the team to the final, which it lost 1-0 to West Germany.
Argentina has won every match in Brazil by a single goal. But unlike in previous games, the Albiceleste played solidly over 90 minutes in Brasilia, frustrating the Belgians with a near-flawless defense, bolstered by strong performances from central midfielders Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia.
The team looked in control even after Di Maria -- the team's most influential player in Brazil aside from Messi -- was substituted by Enzo Perez in the 33rd minute. The winger had appeared to hurt his right leg while shooting five minutes earlier.
Argentina took the lead when Di Maria, picking up a pass from Messi, cut in from the right and tried to find fullback Pablo Zabaleta, but his pass bounced off Jan Vertonghen into Higuain's path.
The Napoli striker avenged himself for a string of mediocre performances in Brazil and was Argentina's best player before being substituted by Fernando Gago in the 81st.
"Higuain has the class to put the ball where he wants it. There is nothing we could do about it," Courtois said about the goal.
NETHERLANDS 4, COSTA RICA 3
SALVADOR, Brazil -- Tim Krul came on as a substitute in the final minute of extra time and then saved two penalties in a 4-3 shootout victory over Costa Rica on Saturday, giving the Netherlands a spot in the World Cup semifinals.
Krul saved spot kicks from Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana after the match had finished 0-0.
"We had a lot of chances but it didn't go in," Krul said on Dutch television. "Then I come in, stop two penalties and here we are."
In another stroke of tactical genius at this year's World Cup, Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal pulled Jasper Cillessen moments after the Ajax goalkeeper had saved a shot from Marcos Urena in extra time.
"The trick is good," said Krul, who plays for Newcastle. "A lot of preparation went into it."
The Dutch team will next face Argentina in the semifinals on Wednesday in Sao Paulo.
Krul looked super confident during the shootout at the Arena Fonte Nova, saving the second and fifth penalties by diving to his left and sticking out his hand.
When Krul stopped Ruiz's penalty, Cillessen, watching from the sideline, punched the air in celebration.
When he saved the second to win the match, Cillessen out-sprinted the rest of the bench to get to Krul, who was already being mobbed by jubilant teammates who had watched from the halfway line.
Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas had kept his team in the match with a string of great saves in the first half and again in extra time. When Wesley Sneijder twice beat him late in regulation and again in the second half of extra time, the woodwork made the stop.
Sneijder hit the post with a free kick in the 80th minute and sent a curling shot over Navas and off the crossbar before the penalty shootout.
At the end, however, Navas could not stop any of the four Dutch penalties as veterans Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt all scored.