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Huntelaar’s late penalty gives Dutch 2-1 win

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FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — The Dutch were worried about the oppressive heat at Arena Castelao, and they left it with the stifling hot conditions to thank for a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals.

An inspired tactical change during the second of two official stoppages led to a late goal from Netherlands forward Wesley Sneijder and an injury-time penalty from Klaas Jan Huntelaar in a dramatic 2-1 victory over Mexico on Sunday.

“I moved to `Plan B’ at the cooling break,” said Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, soon to be the manager at Manchester United. “That is a good way to take advantage of those breaks.”

Despite scoring 10 goals in three group matches, the Dutch again started the match with a defensive 5-3-2 system. Van Gaal made the switch to a more attacking 4-3-3 formation in the second half and tweaked it further when referee Pedro Proenca stopped the match in the 76th minute to allow players to rehydrate.

That helped turn the match around and extend Mexico’s second-round curse to six straight World Cups.

“Unbelievable,” said Arjen Robben, the Netherlands forward that earned the late penalty. “Five minutes from full time, we were out.”

Instead of the Dutch players, it was the Mexicans who wilted in the heat as they conceded twice as many goals in the final minutes of the match as they had in the entire group stage.

“The humidity was against us, but we were fresher and fitter than the Mexicans,” Van Gaal said. “Yes, we escaped. But we showed that we could create more chances with 4-3-3, and the players handled this shift very well.”

The Dutch will next face Costa Rica in the quarterfinals on Saturday in Salvador, and may have to play without midfielder Nigel de Jong, who was substituted in the ninth minute with a groin injury.

Mexico coach Miguel Herrera, one of the most popular characters at the World Cup because of his emotive ways on the sidelines, blamed Proenca for the loss and accused Robben of diving under a challenge from Rafael Marquez to earn the penalty.

“Today it was the man with the whistle who eliminated us from the World Cup,” Herrera said. “If a referee invents a penalty, you’re out of the World Cup.

“I hope they have a look at what happened and that this gentleman goes home just like we are.”

Marquez said Robben admitted that it was a bad call, but added that the Dutchman thought he should have been awarded a spot kick for an earlier challenge.

“I spoke with him after the match and he told me that it was not a penalty,” Marquez said. “He said that the first foul was a penalty and that one was not called.”

Mexico has now advanced to the second round at the World Cup six straight times and not reached the quarterfinals. The last time the team made it that far was as host of the 1986 tournament.

Giovani Dos Santos gave the Mexicans the lead in the 48th minute after a goalless first half, but Sneijder equalized with a hard shot in the 88th.

It was the first time Sneijder, who scored five goals at the last World Cup in South Africa, has found the net in Brazil.

Robben, who has already scored three goals for the Dutch at this year’s tournament, then earned the penalty in the fourth minute of injury time but he handed the ball to Huntelaar.

“You don’t know when your chance will come, but it was today, and so you grab it with both hands,” said Huntelaar, who replaced captain Robin van Persie in the 76th minute. “And it was fantastic.”

For Mexico, goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was again the star player, pulling off two more great saves after playing a key role in holding Brazil to a 0-0 draw in Group A.

But he couldn’t block Sneijder’s shot and guessed wrong when diving in an attempt to stop Huntelaar’s penalty.

“It isn’t easy to go out this way, the way this match went,” Ochoa said. “It’s just very hard to deal with when victory escapes you this way.”

Lineups:

Netherlands: Jasper Cillessen; Paul Verhaegh (Memphis Depay, 56th), Daley Blind, Ron Vlaar, Stefan de Vrij, Dirk Kuyt; Nigel de Jong (Bruno Martins Indi, 9th), Georginio Wijnaldum, Wesley Sneijder; Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie (Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, 76th).

Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa; Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Marquez, Hector Moreno (Diego Reyes, 46th), Miguel Layun, Paul Aguilar; Carlos Salcido, Andres Guardado, Hector Herrera; Giovani Dos Santos (Javier Aquino, 61st), Oribe Peralta (Javier Hernandez, 75th).

Huntelaar’s late penalty gives Dutch 2-1 win

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FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Wesley Sneijder scored late goals Sunday to give the Netherlands a 2-1 victory over Mexico and a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals.

Huntelaar, who came on as a 76th-minute substitute, scored the winning goal from the penalty spot deep in injury time after Rafael Marquez brought down Arjen Robben in the area.

Giovani Dos Santos gave the Mexicans the lead in the 48th minute, but Sneijder equalized for the Dutch in the 88th.

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal had said his team would have to battle the weather and Mexico in the steamy Arena Castelao, and in the end his players outlasted their opponents in the withering afternoon heat.

It was so warm in Fortaleza that referee Pedro Proenca called for cooling breaks in each half so players could rehydrate.

The Mexicans had conceded only one goal in three group matches and looked like they would keep another clean sheet until the late collapse.

It was heartbreak again for Mexico, which has now reached the second stage of the World Cup six straight times without winning. The last time the team made the quarterfinals was when it hosted the tournament in 1986.

Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa had kept his team in the match with two great saves to preserve the lead in the second half, but he was beaten by Sneijder’s powerful drive and guessed wrong when diving in an attempt to stop Huntelaar’s penalty.

With his team a goal down and facing elimination, Van Gaal brought on attacker Memphis Depay and switched his team to the trusted 4-3-3 attacking formation.

The move worked as the Dutch poured forward and finally beat Ochoa.

It was the fourth straight win for the Netherlands at the World Cup after routing defending champion Spain 5-1 and beating Australia 3-2 and Chile 2-0 in Group B.

The Dutch will next face either Costa Rica or Greece in the quarterfinals on Saturday in Salvador.

Huntelaar’s late penalty gives Dutch 2-1 win

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FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored an injury-time penalty Sunday to give the Netherlands a 2-1 win over Mexico and a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals.

The Dutch were awarded the penalty when Rafael Marquez took down Arjen Robben in the area.

Wesley Sneijder equalized for the Dutch in the 88th minute, just when it looked like the Netherlands was headed home.

Giovani Dos Santos scored for Mexico in the 48th, pouncing on a poor headed clearance, chesting down the ball and sending a left-foot shot through three defenders and into the corner of Jasper Cillessen’s goal.

Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa had kept his team in the match until Sneijder’s strike with two great saves.

Referee Pedro Proenca called for cooling breaks in each half on a hot afternoon.