Wave after wave of Oranje crush came at the small Cinderella country of Costa Rica, and each and every time the Ticos sent them away unhappy. Costa Rica needed an incredible performance by their goalkeeper, Keylor Navas who made eight saves in regulation and extra time, a little luck as multiple shots by the Netherlands bounced off the woodworks, and a save by one of their own players, in the final minutes of regulation as Robin van Persie’s shot bounced off Yeltsin Tejeda’s body right on the goalline and saved the game for the time being for Costa Rica.

But when the game was truly on the line and the pressure was at its highest, it was back-up goalkeeper for Netherlands, Tim Krul that made the two saves that sent the Dutch on to the semifinals.

It took over 120 minutes of play, over twenty shots on goal, but the Dutch finally broke through winning on penalties 4-3.

Yeltsin Tejeda Costa Rica's Yeltisn Tejeda saves a Robin van Persie shot by blocking it with his body. Reuters

Before the match, Costa Rica would be without star defender, Oscar Duarte who was shown a red card in Costa Rica’s round of 16 match against Greece. Many wondered would the Ticos defense be able to continue their terrific play without their star.

That question was answered early and often throughout the match as Costa Rican keeper, Keylor Navas was excellent. The stingy and suffocating defense of the Ticos frustrated the Dutch creating a World Cup high 11 offsides penalties against Clockwork Orange. More than their first four games combined.

Costa Rica’s only opportunity came on a fleeting chance early in the second half. In the 62nd and 65th minutes respectively, Costa Rica’s counter attack seemed to have worked to perfection as both Christian Bolanos and Giancarlo Gonzalez attempted shots that just missed the back of the net by inches.

The Dutch had multiple opportunities throughout the match many had thought they had scored at least half a dozen times, but each and every time Navas was there for the save or the assistant referee was there with the offsides flag. Throughout the second half however, you had the feeling that it would just be a matter of time before the Orange broke through.

Keylor Navas Costa Rica's Keylor Navas was the man of the match for Costa Rica Reuters

The Netherlands dominated time of possession, owning the ball almost 70 percent of the time during the match. Similar to the United States match against Belgium, the game felt extremely one sided as the Dutch just continued to attack over and over against the weaker CONCACAF country. It was so one sided in fact, that Costa Rica had zero shots on target for 99 percent of the match.

Their one and only shot on goal came in the 115th minute when Christian Bolanos was able to make a beautiful move inside the box and get off a shot to the right corner of the net. Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Collessen, made his one and only save before being replaced by Tim Krul minutes later for the penalty shoot out.

Krul, who is two inches taller than Cillessen, is known throughout the Netherlands as a penalty kick specialist. In what appeared to be a smart strategy tactically, Krul knew if the game made it to penalties he would be between the pipes and with the help of Holland’s goalkeeper’s coach; they had studied each and every one of the Costa Rican players and their penalty kick tendencies.

Backup Goalie Tim Krul Netherlands' backup goalie Tim Krup saves the last penalty kick against Costa Rica securing the win for his team. Reuters

The move worked brilliantly and now makes Holland’s coach Louis Van Gaal look like a genius. So much so in fact, you wonder if this strategy will get mimicked by other teams moving forward.

Costa Rica is disappointed surely, but they have nothing to be upset about. They exceeded all expectations in this tournament, and were one penalty kick away from stealing the match from the Dutch who were definitely the better team on this day.

Up next for Netherlands is a semifinals match against Lionel Messi and Argentina in Sao Paolo on Wednesday.

Game Notes:
Before the match, Netherlands had lost all four World Cup games they have been in that went to extra time or penalties. Netherlands’ has now won 11 of their last 12 World Cup matches. Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas leaves the tournament with a save percentage of over 90 and made 22 saves. Holland’s big three of Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder each converted their penalty kicks.