Fortaleza, Brazil (4E Sports) – Substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar buried a penalty kick in stoppage time to carry Netherlands to a 2-1 victory over Mexico Sunday in the World Cup round of 16 at Estadio Castelao.
Huntelaar came off the bench with 15 minutes to play and helped set up the game-tying goal for Wesley Sneijder in the 88th minute.
Then, Huntelaar scored from the spot four minutes into added time after Arjen Robben drew a foul from Mexico’s Rafael Marquez inside the penalty area.
With the win, the Dutch booked a spot in the quarterfinals, where they will face either Greece or Costa Rica Saturday.
It was a sorry loss for the Mexicans, who were eyeing their first quarterfinal appearance since 1986. They exited in the second round in each of the past five finals.
Louis van Gaal was forced into a change in the ninth minute when Nigel de Jong was replaced by Bruno Martins Indi, although signs of any injury were unclear.
Mexico had the first sight of goal in the 17th minute when Hector Herrera fired wide of the left-hand post from just inside the area following good work from Oribe Peralta.
Miguel Herrera’s men felt they should have had a penalty shortly afterwards, but Ron Vlaar’s high foot on Hector Herrera went unpunished by referee Pedro Proenca.
Van Persie had Netherlands’ first half scoring chance in the 27th minute, bringing down a ball over the top before firing into the side-netting from an acute angle with his weaker right foot.
Following the first of two cooling breaks in which the players took on fluids to combat the searing temperatures, Mexico went close again just before the interval, Dos Santos seeing his effort saved by the legs of Jasper Cillessen.
The Dutch were denied a penalty of their own in stoppage time. Robben went down under a challenge from Hector Moreno, but once again the match official waved play on, with the latter carried off on a stretcher following the incident.
Mexico made a flying start to the second period, Dos Santos lashing a bouncing ball into the bottom right-hand corner from 25 yards three minutes after the restart for a 1-0 lead.
Peralta threatened a second eight minutes later, but Cillessen was equal to his curling effort from just outside the box.
Netherlands came close to an equalizer in the 58th minute, but Guillermo Ochoa made a superb reaction stop from Stefan de Vrij, tipping the ball onto the post after the defender met Robben’s corner four yards from goal.
In the 88th minute, Robben’s corner was headed back into the centre of the area by Huntelaar, and Sneijder met it unchallenged to lash a shot into the bottom corner past a motionless Ochoa.