Recap: Netherlands vs. Mexico

 

The Sports Network

Fortaleza, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - Klaas-Jan Huntelaar converted a penalty kick in stoppage time to lift the Netherlands to a 2-1 comeback win over Mexico in the round of 16 at the World Cup at the Estadio Castelao on Sunday.

A 48th-minute goal from Mexico's Giovani dos Santos had El Tri on course for their first quarterfinal appearance since 1986.

However, Huntelaar came off the bench with 15 minutes to play and set up the equalizing goal for Wesley Sneijder in the 88th minute before scoring from the spot four minutes into added time after Arjen Robben drew a foul on Mexico's Rafael Marquez inside the penalty area.

The win moves the Dutch into the quarterfinals on Saturday, where they will face either Greece or Costa Rica.

Mexico, meanwhile, has now been eliminated in the round of 16 at the last six World Cup tournaments.

"I think that the team have played well this whole World Cup. We've achieved some very good things, but nobody can take away the bitter taste of this defeat," said Mexico head coach Miguel Herrera. "We did a good job but made mistakes, while the Netherlands did a great job to hold on, keep fighting and finally turn the scoreline around. But this wasn't the Dutch team everyone's been talking about, this is a side that's vulnerable and can be beaten. In physical terms, we never dipped, we were solid and we fought to the final whistle. In my view, my players were extraordinary."

Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong limped off the field after just nine minutes, forcing head coach Louis van Gaal to burn an early substitution in extremely hot conditions.

Mexico's Hector Herrera had the first good chance for either side when he rolled a shot just wide of the left post from inside the penalty area.

Dos Santos tested Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen late in the first half with a shot from a tight angle that Cillessen kept out with his outstretched leg.

However, Cillessen was picking the ball out of his net in the 48th when Dos Santos took the ball down off his chest and hammered a left-footed shot inside the right post past the diving Dutch netminder.

Yet after scoring the goal, Mexico sat back and invited the Netherlands to come forward, leading to a number of good chances.

Stefan de Vrij almost leveled the contest in the 57th minute when he turned a corner kick on goal from close range, only for Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to parry the ball off the post.

Sneijder saw a deflected shot go narrowly wide and Robben forced a good stop from Ochoa in the 74th after he danced past a defender to get into the box.

But Mexico was unable to hang on as a corner kick was played to the back post for Huntelaar, who nodded the ball back to Sneijder for an emphatic first-time finish.

The Netherlands had all of the momentum at that point, and Robben made a dangerous run into the area toward the end line. Marquez lunged in to make a tackle and he clipped Robben just enough to send the Dutchman to the ground.

Referee Pedro Proenca pointed to the penalty spot, and Huntelaar stepped up and sent Ochoa the wrong way, sending the Oranje to the quarterfinals for the second successive World Cup.

"I have to give credit to my players: I think they were in much better shape and much more focused than our opponents," Van Gaal said. "They never stopped believing, right to the end. They showed belief and a lot of confidence."

Game Notes

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