SALVADOR, Brazil >> Louis van Gaal made the call, and Tim Krul made the saves.
In another move that will only add to his reputation as a tactical mastermind, the Netherlands coach led his team into the World Cup semifinals after bringing on Krul with seconds remaining in extra time.
Moments later, Krul saved two penalties in a 4-3 shootout victory over Costa Rica, making the Manchester United-bound Van Gaal again look like a football genius.
"It worked out," Van Gaal said Saturday after his team played Costa Rica to a 0-0 draw through extra time. "That was beautiful. I’m a bit proud of that."
Jasper Cillessen had started in goal for the Dutch team, but Van Gaal made the decision to pull him after 120 minutes of scoreless football and replace him with Krul.
The Newcastle goalkeeper, who really only touched the ball twice all game, saved the second and fifth penalties, and guessed the correct way on all five.
"We thought it all through," Van Gaal said. "We all thought that Tim Krul was the best keeper to stop penalties. He is taller and has a longer reach. We prepared for the Costa Rica penalties just as we prepared for our own penalties."
In the semifinals, the Netherlands will face Lionel Messi and his Argentina teammates in Sao Paulo on Wednesday.
Although Krul made the decisive stops in the shootout, it was Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas that was the star of the match.
Navas made a string of saves to keep the attacking Dutch scoreless for 90 minutes of regulation time and 30 minutes of extra time.
He kept his team in the match with some excellent saves. And when Wesley Sneijder twice beat him late in regulation and again in the second half of extra time, the woodwork made the stop.
Sneijder hit the post with a free kick in the 80th minute and then sent a curling shot over Navas and off the crossbar before the penalty shootout.
|At Salvador, Brazil|
Netherlands won 4-3 on penalty kicks
Shootout–Netherlands 4 (Robin Van Persie G, Arjen Robben G, Wesley Sneijder G, Dirk Kuyt G); Costa Rica 3 (Celso Borges G, Bryan Ruiz NG, Giancarlo Gonzalez G, Christian Bolanos G, Michael Umana NG).
Shots–Netherlands 20, Costa Rica 6.
Shots On Goal–Netherlands 15, Costa Rica 3.
Yellow Cards–Netherlands, Bruno Martins Indi, 64th minute; Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, 111th. Costa Rica, Junior Diaz, 37th; Michael Umana, 52nd; Giancarlo Gonzalez, 81st; Johnny Acosta, 107th.
Offsides–Netherlands 13, Costa Rica 2.
Fouls Committed–Netherlands 15, Costa Rica 13.
Fouls Against–Netherlands 11, Costa Rica 14.
Corner Kicks–Netherlands 11, Costa Rica 1.
Referee–Ravshan Irmatov, Uzbekistan. Linesmen–Abdukhamidullo Rasulov, Uzbekistan; Bahadyr Kochkarov, Kyrgyzstan.
Argentina 1, Belgium 0
|At Brasilia, Brazil|
First half–1, Argentina, Gonzalo Higuain 1, 8th minute. Second half–None. Shots–Argentina 10, Belgium 10. Shots On Goal–Argentina 7, Belgium 4. Yellow Cards–Argentina, Lucas Biglia, 75th. Belgium, Eden Hazard, 53rd; Toby Alderweireld, 68th. Offsides–Argentina 1, Belgium 6. Fouls Committed–Argentina 11, Belgium 14. Fouls Against–Argentina 13, Belgium 10. Corner Kicks–Argentina 3, Belgium 4. Referee–Nicola Rizzoli, Italy. Linesmen–Renato Faverani, Italy; Andrea Stefani, Italy. A–68,551.