Yet, everyone knew to expect the unexpected in this tournament, and Costa Rica were able to hold Netherlands to a draw through regular time and extra time. It was time for a penalty shootout, which no one enjoys, because every shot is heart-stopping.
The Netherlands were smart about the match. They were able to save up their substitutions and in the last minutes of extra time, they subbed in Tim Krul for Jasper Cillessen. According to Krul, he was aware that this would be done if the match were to end in penalties. He had a lot of time to think about it, and he was ready to make the world remember his World Cup performance.
Well, he will go down in 2014 World Cup history, but for all the wrong reasons. What he did was completely legal within match rules, but some argue that he should’ve received a card or two for unsportsmanlike behavior.
What Krul did was equivalent of a high-school bully picking on the new kids in class. Costa Rica are essentially the new kids as this was their forth time qualifying for a World Cup, and their first appearance in a quarterfinal. Krul studied them against Greece and used intimidation to get what he wanted from them.
Every player who stepped up to take a goal got an earful from Krul. He knew the nervous shooters and would tell them he knew which way they’d shoot. He did. He dove in the right direction every single time and was able to save two shots that won Netherlands the match. It was an impressive performance, but it was hard to feel happy for Krul.
Fans of the Netherlands and Krul may say he is just an amazing goalkeeper, but anyone must admit an amazing goalkeeper would be the one who starts for his national team and doesn’t have to resort to mind games to win a penalty shootout.
Netherlands played well — and clean — all tournament, but I think Krul’s performance and the team’s celebration sullied their reputation.
Krul essentially did what needed to be done to win the match, but I think it will now lead to others rooting for Argentina‘s takedown of Netherlands. No one likes a bully, even if its done as a skillful tactic to win the most important tournament in soccer.