Holland v Argentina, World Cup semi-final: Dutchman Ron Vlaar is consoled after missing his penalty in the shootout. Photo: Getty Images
The Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal revealed that he took the surprise decision to make Aston Villa centre-back Ron Vlaar his first penalty taker only after asking two other unnamed Dutch players, reports The Telegraph.
Van Gaal also said he would have again brought on reserve goalkeeper Tim Krul if he had not already used his other substitutes.
Vlaar missed the first penalty to immediately hand Argentina the initiative in the shoot-out. After being widely praised for his tactics in the shoot-out win against Costa Rica when he brought on Krul, Van Gaal said that penalties were simply a matter of luck.
"We took those penalties in an incredible way against Costa Rica," said Van Gaal.
"It should give you confidence. But the issue is you score the first one and I asked two players to take the first kick before ending up with Vlaar. I thought he was the best player on the pitch so should have a lot of confidence. It just goes to show that it’s not easy scoring in a penalty shoot-out."
Asked why he had already taken off three outfield players - Robin van Persie, Nigel de Jong and Bruno Martins Indi - before the shoot-out, Van Gaal said: "I substituted Indi because he already had a yellow card and had to mark Enzo Pérez and was often too late. I thought he wasn’t executing properly. De Jong I didn’t want to risk. He might have been injured himself again. I substituted Van Persie because he was exhausted."
Van Gaal is unhappy that he must now lead Holland in the third-place play-off against Brazil before beginning work as the new Manchester United manager.
"I think this match should never be played," he said Van Gaal.
"I’ve been saying that for 10 years. It’s unfair - we have one day less to recover than our opponents.
"But the worst thing is I believe that, chances are, you lose twice in a row and a tournament where you’ve played so marvellously well you’ll leave as a loser after losing the last two matches. There’s only one award that counts, and that’s being world champion."
Van Gaal joked that he had taught Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero to save penalties after signing him for Alkmaar but took offence when it was put to him that his former player had been an “agent of destruction”.
Van Gaal said: "First and foremost, ’destruction’ is not the correct word. I don’t think it’s fair what you’re saying. It’s a very humiliating question to be asked. But then again, I didn’t teach Romero to stop penalties but we were the club to bring him to Europe. He was a big talent, and someone who has the qualities to do that."
Of Holland’s World Cup performance, Van Gaal said: “I’m not really interested in what people say about me or my team. It’s a good thing if people are very positive, but the issue is, in a tournament like this one, you need to score one more than your opponent. We didn’t create much. It’s the most terrible scenario, to lose on penalties. At the very least we were equal with them. If not the better team. It’s a big disappointment.
“We played a fantastic tournament. No one had expected us to make it through to the semi-final. Argentina are a top country with top players. We didn’t lose against them, but the penalties are down to luck.”
Romero told the supporters to “enjoy the moment” after his two saves put Argentina into their first World Cup final since 1990. “We will enjoy it and tomorrow we will start working for the final,” he said. “Penalties are a question of luck, that is the reality. I had confidence in myself and, fortunately, everything turned out well.”