The final showdown of the 2014 FIFA World Cup is set between Germany and Argentina after the latter defeated the Netherlands on penalties in the second semi-final. Germany had earlier prevailed over Brazil in a crushing 7-1 victory against the host nation.
Argentina 0-0 Netherlands
Argentina win on penalties 4-2
In stark contrast to the first semi-final where the goals rained on the pitch, the second semi-final ended goalless after regulation time and was forced into extra time. At the end of 120 minutes plus injury time, there were still blank sheets and the match had to be decided on penalties.
No Secret Weapon
The Netherlands had just come off a penalty shoot-out in their quarterfinal match against Costa Rica where Louis Van Gaal made the controversial move of replacing Jasper Cillessen with Tim Krul in the closing minutes of extra time to have a fresh goal keeper for the shoot-out.
The move against Costa Rica paid off for the Dutch when Krul saved two spot kicks to put them through. This time around against Argentina, The Oranje were once again forced into a shoot-out but after having already used up three substitutions, the option of bringing in Krul once again was not possible if that was ever even in the plan this time around.
Lack of Opportunity
The game started with neither side getting any real chance to attack. The Netherlands were unable to trouble the Argentine goal at all in the first half and Argentina's chances were easily caught by Cillessen or cleared away by the Dutch defenders.
Gonzalo Higuain had an opportunity midway through the second half which he could only plant into the side of the net. The game crawled into extra time with not much action until the Dutch made a dangerous attack when Arjen Robben surged into the area but an extra touch and a moment's hesitation allowed Javier Mascherano to swipe the opportunity away.
The Dutch tried again and showed every intention of finishing the match before penalties but Romero was there to thwart their advances just as he eventually would during the crucial shoot-out.
Romero the Hero
Ron Vlaar stepped up to the spot to take the first kick for the Dutch and Sergio Romero did well to block the low shot on his left giving the Argentines an immediate advantage. It was all on Lionel Messi who did his job and sent Cillessen the wrong way to bury his shot into the net giving the Argentines the lead and confidence.
Arjen Robben needed to score to get the Dutch back in the game and that was what he did this time being the one to confuse the opposing keeper.
With the score level, Garay made a powerful high shot to take it to 2-1 in favour of Argentina.
Wesley Sneijder then tried his luck but found that it has run out as Romero anticipated correctly and saves his attempt.
Sergio Aguero made a low shot to the right and this time Cillessen goes in the right direction. He gets close but comes up short and the shot still goes through taking Argentna up to a 3-1 lead.
All the pressure was on Dirk Kuyt to keep Netherlands alive and that was what he did by sending Romero the wrong way letting his team catch up 3-2.
Rodriguez finally sealed it for Argentina with a high shot that just grazed Cillessen's finger but powered on into the net. Argentina have won the shoot-out 4-2 thanks to two saved shots by Man of the Match Sergio Romero.
It will be Europe versus South America at the Maracana on July 13, Germany versus Argentina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final in Brazil. The hosts meanwhile will be facing the Netherlands in a play-off for third place on the July 12 in Brasilia.