It’s incredibly unbelievable the way fortune fluctuated in the last eight minutes of the match between the Netherlands and Mexico. Sure winners turned losers. Happy faces suddenly became horrified with heart-breaks. What a turn of events! The World Cup certainly unfolded one of its best dramas in Brazil.
Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands scores his team's first goal past Guillermo Ochoa of Mexico during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Netherlands and Mexico. Photo: Getty Images
As the match drawing to the dying minutes, Mexico looked to be running away with a well-deserved 1-0 win. With a huge band of fans dancing and singing on the stands, they inched towards scripting their best ever World Cup success outside home. Then something went wrong somewhere, with the Lady Luck swinging the other way.
Mexico broke down in the final three minutes of regulation, and again in stoppage time following a thunderous shot from Sneijder and a deft strike from a shocking penalty. Mexican waves stopped abruptly amid Orange outbursts. The Netherlands reversed their fate within the eight minutes. From being sent home, they now advanced into the quarterfinals.
The Mexicans dominated the match for much of the first half and the beginning of the second, taking the lead in the 48th minute on Giovani dos Santos’ blistering left-footed strike. Their defence looked rock-solid, allowing virtually no space to the fast and furious strike duo of Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie.
Mexico matched the Dutch with speed and skill. Their midfield and forwards looked menacing from outside the box and on counterattacks.
Robin van Persie of the Netherlands controls the ball against Diego Reyes of Mexico during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Netherlands and Mexico at Castelao on June 29, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
The Netherlands would have rallied back in the match much earlier if not Guillermo Ochoa were there under the bar. The Mexican, who denied Neymar two sure goals in the group match against Brazil, once again displayed some outstanding goalkeeping, especially when he deflected a point-blank volley off the goal line to maintain the lead. It’s hard to believe that Ochoa has no club to play for upon relegation of his French team from the first division. But his World Cup exploits is going to land him some big offers soon.
The Dutch have demonstrated once again how dangerous a side they are! They seem more dangerous when chips are down, and they deserve to go a long way in the tournament. The trio of Robben, Persie and Sneijder operated like a well-oiled machine. They ran, passed, dodged and shot without any pause, almost like machine. Robben in particular appeared unstoppable.
Given the Dutch goings, you can expect the Netherlands in the semifinals after their quarterfinals match against either Greece or Costa Rica on Saturday. But after the eight-minute drama today, I can give you one advice: Expect but don’t bet on it!