Featured Matches
Previous
Real Salt Lake
Montreal Impact
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
AC Milan
Olympiakos
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Vélez Sarsfield
Estudiantes de Caseros
10:15 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Groningen
Aberdeen
5:30 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Sligo
Rosenborg
6:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
Stjarnan
Motherwell
7:15 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 2
Game Details
Shakhter Karagandy
FK Atlantas
3
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 0
Game Details
Shakhter Karagandy
FK Atlantas
3
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 0
Game Details
Hapoel Be'er Sheva
RNK Split
0
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
MyPa
Dinamo Minsk
3:30 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 3
Game Details
Omonia Nicosia
FK Buducnost Podgorica
4:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Haugesund
FK Sarajevo
4:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
Kuban Krasnodar
Sillamae Kalev
4:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 4 - 0
Game Details
Inter Baku
Elfsborg
4:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
IFK Goteborg
Györi ETO FC
5:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 0
Game Details
Lech Poznan
Kalju
5:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Liberec
MFK Kosice
5:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
Tromso
Víkingur Gøta
5:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
KS Flamurtari Vlorë
Petrolul Ploiesti
5:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 2
Game Details
SV Grödig Amateure
Cukaricki Belgrade
5:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 4 - 0
Game Details
Chikhura Sachkhere
Bursaspor
5:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
AIK Solna
Linfield
5:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 1
Game Details
Zimbru Chisinau
CSKA Sofia
5:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Shakhter Soligorsk
Derry City
5:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
FC Vaduz
Ruch Chorzow
5:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 3
Game Details
Hapoel Tel Aviv
Astana 1964
5:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 3
Game Details
Esbjerg FB
Kairat Almaty
5:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
FC Spartak Trnava
FC Zestafoni
5:30 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
FC Groningen
Aberdeen
5:30 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
FC Zorya Luhansk
Laci
5:30 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 0
Game Details
Sligo
Rosenborg
6:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
Zawisa Bydgoszcz
S.V. Zulte Waregem
6:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Vojvodina
AS Trencin
6:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 4
Game Details
Asteras Tripolis
RoPS
6:00 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
Hajduk Split
Dundalk
6:15 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 0
Game Details
ND Gorica
Molde
6:30 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 4
Game Details
Jagodina
CFR Cluj-Napoca
6:30 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
NK Koper
Neftchi Baku PFC
6:30 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
Ferencvaros
Rijeka
6:30 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 1
Game Details
Siroki Brijeg
Mlada Boleslav
6:30 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
Diosgyor VTK
PFC Litex Lovech
6:30 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Crusaders
Brommapojkarna
6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 4 - 0
Game Details
St Johnstone
FC Luzern
6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
St. Pölten
Botev Plovdiv
7:05 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
FH Hafnarfjordur
Neman Grodno
7:15 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Stjarnan
Motherwell
7:15 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 2
Game Details
Real Salt Lake
Montreal Impact
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Vélez Sarsfield
Estudiantes de Caseros
10:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Sport
Paysandu SC
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
AC Milan
Olympiakos
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Next

Head to Head:
Life after Suarez

Liverpool Jul 16, 2014
Read

Brazil will be better prepped for 2018

Brazil Jul 15, 2014
Read
 Posted by Doug McIntyre
Jul 5, 2014

Van Gaal's gamble pays big dividends

The Netherlands sealed their semifinal spot via penalties against a steadfast Costa Rica.

SALVADOR, Brazil -- Here are three quick thoughts after the Netherlands ended Costa Rica's Cinderella World Cup run in a penalty shootout after a breathtaking scoreless draw at Arena Fonte Nova, advancing to the semifinals -- where they'll meet Argentina in Sao Paulo on Wednesday -- for the second consecutive tournament.

1. Bravo, Ticos

They may have lost in the cruelest way imaginable, but Costa Rica won the respect of the world with their performance in Brazil. The tiny Central American nation wasn't beaten in regulation in five games, and shut out Uruguay, Italy, England and the Netherlands along the way.

NetherlandsNetherlands
Costa RicaCosta Rica
(4) 0
(3) 0
ESPN3, ESPN FT-Pens
Match 59. Watch Highlights
Game Details

Anyone who thought the Ticos were going to roll over in this match wasn't paying attention. Watching Costa Rica in this tournament, you knew they were going to be extremely tough to put away. Jorge Luis Pinto's team wasn't remotely fazed by the all-world Dutch. Indeed, the toughest spell for the Ticos on Saturday night -- aside from the frenetic final minutes of regulation -- was the first quarter hour of the match, when only keeper Keylor Navas' heroics kept them in the game. Costa Rica settled in well after that, but the ubertalented Oranje had the better of the play.

But while the Ticos' stout defense bent on multiple occasions, it never broke. Striker Marco Urena nearly stole a winner in the second period of extra time, but Jasper Cillessen came up with a key stop in the 117th minute. Alas, it wasn't to be in penalties, and tired legs (Costa Rica also went to PKs against Greece in the round of 16) may have contributed to Bryan Ruiz's and Michael Umana's failure to convert their spot kicks. Still, Pinto -- easily the coach of the tournament, no matter what happens from here -- and his players leave the country with their heads held high, even if the scent of the semifinals will linger in their nostrils in the days and weeks ahead.

2. Van Gaal's gamble paid off

It's not often you see a coach pull his starting keeper just before a shootout begins, especially on this stage. But that's exactly what Dutch boss Louis van Gaal did when the 120 minutes were up, replacing Cillessen with penalty specialist Tim Krul. Krul, who plays his club ball for Newcastle United, had stopped just two of 20 PKs in the Premier League coming in.

Tim Krul came on in the 120th minute to stop two Costa Rica penalties.

But he's two inches taller than Cillessen, and Van Gaal banked on that extra wingspan giving his team the edge, even if Krul was coming in cold, and even if Cillessen was none too happy about being yanked. Krul also had the advantage of studying video of the Costa Rican penalty takers' tendencies against the Greeks, which may have proved decisive in the end. Ruiz and Umana didn't miss the target; Krul guessed correctly and stopped both players, justifying Van Gaal's risky decision.

3. Keylor Navas has been the best keeper in Brazil

There's been no shortage of sensational goalkeeping at this World Cup. Belgium's Thibaut Courtois, Germany's Manuel Neuer, Mexico's Guillermo Ochoa and Tim Howard of the USA have all put in memorable performances. But the 27-year-old Navas was even better. He allowed just two goals in Costa Rica's five games, and he saved his finest outing of all for the Dutch.

Keylor Navas has been the best keeper at this World Cup.

His series of acrobatic stops -- a diving redirection of Arjen Robben's free kick in the 38th minute may have been the most impressive -- kept the Ticos in the game in the first half. But Navas was also quick to come off his line to put out fires, and his presence as the anchor of Pinto's defensive scheme clearly gave his teammates confidence. He needed some help from the post and the crossbar (as well as defender Yeltsin Tejeda) later on, but Navas still came up with a couple of late key stops to get the game to the shootout. And despite the loss, he was still, correctly, named man of the match.

Doug McIntyre

Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has watched or attended almost every U.S. men's national team game since Paul Caligiuri's "shot heard 'round the world" and has covered the Yanks for The Mag since 2005. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.