Netherlands roar into quarterfinals, rally to beat Mexico 2-1
FORTALEZA, Brazil, June 29 (Xinhua/Sun) -- The Netherlands, the three-time runners-up, roared into the World Cup quarterfinals, coming from behind in late minutes to beat Mexico 2-1 here on Sunday.
After a lackluster first half, Dos Santos scored for the first time in two years to give Mexico a 1-0 lead in the 48th minute. The No. 10 held off Daley Blind to fire off a half-volley from the top of the area to the bottom corner past a diving Jasper Cillessen.
Netherlands broke Mexican hearts in the final moments after Wesley Sneijder's super strike and Klaas van Huntelaar's calmly finished penalty.
Mexico, which had been eliminated from the round of 16 five times in a row, failed to break the jinx today, even though they could have done it.
The Dutch men tied the score in the 88th minute when Sneijder hit a perfect half-volley into the lower corner on Jan Huntelaar's head-back and not even the impressive Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa could get to it.
Two minutes later, Arjen Robben was fouled inside the box by Mexican captain Rafael Marquez. A penalty was awarded and Huntelaar scored from the spot and Ochoa dived the opposite way.
Robben played a key role in the Dutch victory, even though he did not collect a goal. His fast-pace breakthroughs were the main threat to the Mexican backline.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal fielded the same consevative 5-3-2 formation as that in their last group match against Chile, with forward Dirk Kuyt de facto in the backline. Mexico's formation was 3-5-2.
Van Gaal was forced to make an early change only 10 minutes into the game as the injured De Jong limped off.
In the 20th minute, Mexican midfielder Hector Herrera broke through the backline and nearly connected on a looping ball into the box but his header was deflected wide.
Four minutes later, Mexican defender Carlos Salcido shot from distance after the Dutch backline dropped off but the Dutch keeper Jasper Cillessen palmed it away and out for a corner.
On 27 minutes, Dutch star forward Robin Van Persie, the captain on the field, made a good run into the box and got a shot off but it sailed wide.
Due to the heat and humidity in Fortaleza, there are two official cooling breaks during the match, each three minutes in length. The first stoppage came after 30 minutes once the ball went out of play, and the second was on 75 minutes.
With the win, the Netherlands will face the winners of Costa Rica vs Greece in the quarterfinals. They have greater chance to enter the top four