Argentina beat Dutch on penalties to reach World Cup semifinals

Argentina beat Dutch on penalties to reach World Cup semifinals

Lusail, Qatar, Dec 9 (EFE).- After failing to make a stop in 120 minutes, Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano “Dibu” Martinez saved two Dutch penalties in the shootout that decided Friday’s World Cup 2022 quarterfinal here and the Albiceleste advanced to the final four for the sixth time.

Lionel Messi assisted on Argentina first goal – a maiden international marker by Nahuel Molina – and converted a penalty for the second to equal Gabriel Batitusta with 10 goals for the national side in World Cup play.

And the two-time World Cup winners looked to be in full command of the game until the 83rd minute, when late sub Wout Weghhorst beat Martinez with a header to halve the deficit in front of an overwhelmingly pro-Argentine crowd of 88,000-plus at Lusail Stadium.

In the 10th minute of stoppage time, Weghorst won a free kick just outside the area and brought the Netherlands level, scoring from close range after Teun Koopmeiners rolled the ball to the Argentina wall instead of kicking away.

The last time the two teams went to a shootout in the World Cup was the 2014 semifinals in Brazil, where Argentina came out on top and advanced to the final against eventual winners Germany.

On this occasion, however, Dibu Martinez came into the shootout having faced few shots in the course of the tournament, while Dutch keeper Andries Noppert – making his international debut in Qatar – had made several impressive stops to get his side to the quarterfinal and force Friday’s contest to penalties.

But it was Aston Villa’s Martinez who would come up big, stopping the first two Dutch shooters, Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghuis.

Messi, Leandro Paredes and Gonzalo Montiel scored and Koopmeiners, Weghorst converted for the Netherlands before Argentina’s Enzo Fernandez missed on his attempt.

The Oranje’s Luuk de Jong scored to leave the sides knotted 3-3 as Lautaro Martinez stepped up to win it for Argentina.

Friday was the sixth time the Netherlands – still in pursuit of their first World Cup – and Argentina have met in the quadrennial tournament, including the 1978 final that saw the Albiceleste lift the trophy for the first time.

Argentina-Netherlands encounters have a tendency to be scrappy and Friday was no exception, as the squads combined for 15 yellow cards, the highest so far in World Cup 2022. EFE apa/dr

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