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Sunday was a pretty exciting day for this World Cup. Fans were treated to two very good and well contested games, a couple of late equalizers and even some penalty kicks to add to the drama of an already dramatic World Cup. Let’s see how it all went down.

Mexican Heartbreak

Was the deciding penalty real, or was it a dive?

Mexico had this game in the bag. They were just a few minutes away from a giant upset, but they couldn’t hold on in the end, and Holland advances instead. The two teams played hard over the first 45 minutes, but no one was able to find the net. It wasn’t until the 48th minute that Giovani Dos Santos found pay dirt, unleashing a left-footed shot from outside the area and beyond the diving Jasper Cillessen. After that, the Mexican defense took over, and it looked for the longest time like Mexico was going to be able to pull off the shocker.

You can’t count out those pesky Dutch, though. In the 88th minute, The Dutch equalized when the Mexican defense fell asleep for just one second on a corner. The ball was headed out of the area towards the left side, but right two a waiting Wesley Sneijder, who was coiled and ready just outside the box. As great as Memo Ochoa has been in this tournament, the Mexican keeper never even stood a chance at stopping the ball, and the game was tied.

It wouldn’t remain tied for long. Just two minutes later, the great Arjen Robben was tripped up by Rafa Márquez just to the right of the goal. That meant a penalty kick, which was converted by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Just like that, Mexico had gone from making the quarter-finals for the first time ever on foreign soil to catching the next flight back to Mexico. The penalty, of course, did not go uncontested by Mexico. Firy Mexican coach Miguel Herrera said of the penalty: “We ended up losing because he [the ref] whistled a penalty that did not exist,” insinuating that Robben had taken a dive. One thing to note is that Robben admitted to diving earlier in the game, but not on that last one (of course). Also, Márquez claimed that Robben admitted to diving on the last penalty as well: “I spoke with him [Robben] after the match and he told me that it was not a penalty.” Unfortunatley, no matter what you believe about the penalty, Holland moves on and Mexico goes home in heartbreaking fashion.

Miguel Herrera
This is how mad Miguel Herrera was at the end of this one.

The Ticos Roll On

Michael Umaña hammers home the game-winner in PKs.

Costa Rica continued its improbable run, knocking out Greece in a nail-biter that only penalty kicks, and not 120 minutes of fútbol, could decide. This game also featured a shocking late equalizer–this one by Greece–but the Ticos were able to hold on despite being down a man for nearly 60 minutes. Impressive.

Like in the earlier game, the two teams played to a scoreless tie in the first half. Like Mexico, Costa Rica got on the board first. After struggling to get even any shots near the goal against the tough, blue-collar style Greek defense, Bryan Ruiz directed a shot to lower right corner of the net in the 52nd minute and, seemingly out of nowhere on a soft attempt, the Ticos had a 1-0 lead. I called the goal kind of lame at the time, because he didn’t hammer home a blistering shot or head a nice cross pass into the back of the net. It was just an extremely well placed shot that Greek goalie Orestis Karnezis simply could not reach.

After that, Costa Rica just had to hang on for 38 minutes. They nearly made it, and if it wasn’t for defender Óscar Duarte, they might have. Duarte, who was being beaten down the sideline all game long by Giorgios Karagounis and had received a yellow card in the first half, continued his reckless challenging and was flagged for a second yellow in the 66th minute. The Ticos would need to hold on for 24 more minutes (plus stoppage) if they wanted to move to the next round, but Okratis Papastathopoulos (he might be Greek) finally solved Costa Rican keeper Keilor Navas in the 91st minute, which sent the game to extra time (although only a beautiful save by Navas less than a minute later made that possible).

Costa Rica somehow held on for all 30 extra time minutes (plus a few of stoppage time), and the game went to penalty kicks. How Greece managed to barely score one goal with an hour of a man advantage, I’ll never know. Anyway, the two teams traded goals for the first three rounds of the penalty kicks. Costa Rica nailed their fourth round kick, but Theofanis Gekas couldn’t get his shot past Navas, who guessed direction correctly and made another amazing save on Geka’s powerful shot. Michael Umaña stepped up for the Ticos and hammered home the winner. Costa Rica moves on, and the Greeks went home.

Featured image courtesy of: Getty Images

Martin Stezano

About Martin Stezano

Uruguayan born and American raised with a unique perspective on the domestic and international sports scenes. It will both tickle your funny bone and enlighten your mind. Love it or hate it...just read it.