In a show that the FIFA World Cup is still one of the best sports tournaments in the world, the second round of matches that were played on Sunday were as pulsating as they were unpredictable. While the Netherlands came from behind to literally snatch away the quarter final berth from the jaws of the Central Americans, it needed extra time and then penalty shoot outs to decide that Costa Rica go on to meet the Dutch in the quarter finals.
The Netherlands versus Mexico match failed completely to live up to its billing, which was probably because of the nervousness produced by the event of that magnitude. Short passes that were hardly completed were the order of the day, with very little creativity shown by either team, particular in the first half. The stadium was hot with humidity of close to seventy percent, which necessitated the granting of cooling breaks thirty minutes into each break.
It was the second half that brought excitement for the close to sixty thousand strong spectators who braved the humidity. With only three minutes after play had resumed, the Mexicans found the back of the net through hard working, dos Santos. Dos Santos latched onto the ball outside the area and sent a well-placed volley beyond the despairing dive of Cillessen to give his team a deserved lead. This woke up the Dutch from their lethargic slumber and then they started to post sporadic attacks into the enemy territory. Several times, their chief architect, Robben, made menacing inroads into the Mexican penalty area but these were stopped in their tracks by the well knit and coordinated defence of the Mexicans. They were so good at thwarting these attacks that Von Persie had to be substituted for lack of effect. Again, Robben had to be moved to the right side where he either had to use the unfamiliar right foot or cut back inwards and attempt to unleash power from his familiar left foot. It was from one of these attacks that one of the half hearted defence kick backs landed right in the path of Wesley Snidjer, who made no mistake and released a grounder that beat the otherwise superb Ochoa in goals for Mexico all systems out.
The Portuguese referee, together with his panel allowed for six minutes of additional time and it is in the third minute of this time that the Mexican world came crumbling down around them. Out on one of his surjourns on the right side, Robben raced towards the goal line, was tripped and refused to fall and soldiered on. Just as he reached the goal line and was preparing to cut back inside, he was stepped on by Mexican defender, Marquez and, this time did not hesitate to go down. From the resultant penalty, Huntelaar sent the magnificent Ochoa the wrong way to send the Oranje revolution into the last eight.
On the day, under the watchful eye of Benjamin Jon Williams and watched by just over 40 000 spectators, Greece held a ten man Costa Rica to a one all draw in regulation time after Duarte had been sent for an early shower following a second caution in the match. Papastathopoulos equalized on the dot of ninety minutes to send the game into extra time. When the extra time did not yield results, the penalty shoot outs helped to dispatch one of the last few European teams following a 5-3 win for the Costa Ricans.