Argentina edges Netherlands via penalties, reaches World Cup final

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Sao Paulo, Brazil (4E Sports) – Argentina booked a place in the World Cup final with a 4-2 victory over the Netherlands via penalty shootout following a scoreless 120 minutes of play Wednesday at Arena de Sao Paulo.

Argentina will face Germany in the final at Maracana Sunday, while the Netherlands squares off with Brazil for third place Saturday.

Goalkeeper Sergio Romero made two key saves against Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijer while his Dutch counterpart Jasper Cillessen failed to stop all of Argentina’s attempts in the shootout.

Lionel Messi, Maxi Rodriguez, Ezequiel Garay and Sergio Aguero delivered the blows in the shootout for the Argentines, who last made it to the finals in 1990 but were defeated by the Germans.

The two final protagonists also squared off for the trophy in 1986 with Argentina winning the showdown.

This game was a stark contrast to the first semifinal, where Germany had raced into a 5-0 lead within 29 minutes to stun Brazil.

Netherlands made one change from their quarterfinal win over Costa Rica as Nigel de Jong made an unexpected recovery to return in place of Memphis Depay.

For Argentina, Marcos Rojo came back from a one-match suspension, and Enzo Perez earned a spot in the absence of the injured Angel di Maria.

Neither side carved out a clear goal-scoring opportunity in the first period. Sneijder fired an effort on goal in the 13th minute, but his volley from outside the box was comfortably wide of the left-hand post.

Messi threatened for the first time two minutes later, seeing his free-kick well held by Cillessen diving low to his right.

Argentina looked marginally the more dangerous of the two sides and midway through the first half as Ezequiel Garay headed Ezequiel Lavezzi’s left-wing corner over the crossbar under pressure from Vlaar.

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