(BRAZIL) – On Saturday, last two games were played of the FIFA World Cup quarterfinals stage, after which two teams have qualified for the semifinals. It is to be noted here that Brazil and Germany had already qualified for the semifinals after they beat Colombia and France respectively on Friday.
The first game was played between Argentina and Belgium, who had reached the quarterfinals after beating Switzerland and USA respectively. Moreover, both teams had reached the quarterfinals stage unbeaten, so, a close game was expected. However, Argentina had a slight edge, as it had already beaten Belgium three times in the four games that the two teams played against each other in the past. As the match started, Argentina managed to gain a lead over Belgium just in the 8th minute, courtesy of a fine goal by Gonzalo Higuain.
Belgium was all over the place, however, despite some opportunities and attempts, it could not score a goal in the first half, and the teams went 1-0. In the second half, teams tried to put in some more efforts to score a goal, however, could not gain success. A goal in the second half, could have pushed the lead for Argentina to 2-0, and could have made things easier for them. On the other hand, Belgium also needed a goal desperately so as to at least level the scores. By the end of the second half, the scores remained 1-0, which ultimately led to the victory of Argentina. Gonzalo Higuain was declared the man of the match. Argentina qualified for the semifinals for the first time after 24 years, where it will meet Netherlands on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Argentina’s midfielder, Angel di Maria suffered a thigh injury in the game against Belgium and was immediately taken off. It is speculated that he might miss the rest of the games of the World Cup.
The second quarterfinal was played between Netherlands and Costa Rica. Costa Rica had emerged as a good side in the tournament, and was all geared up for the challenge against a better side like Netherlands. Netherlands, on the other hand, had reached the semifinals unbeaten. Moreover, this was the first time the two teams were playing against each other. As the match started, both teams looked good, both in their attack, as well as in their defense. Costa Rica gave tough time to its opponent, and did quite well to stop Netherlands from scoring a goal, and the teams went in the first half 0-0.
The same scenario continued in the second half, and despite putting extra efforts, no team could score a goal. 30 minuted of extra time was given, however, the scores remained level, and the match was ultimately decided in penalty shootout. The penalty shootout started and once again, the match was tied at 3-3. Just when Netherlands was about to take their fourth penalty, Louis van Gaal, the team’s manager substituted Jasper Cillessen, the Dutch goal keeper, with Tim Krul. The substitution proved to be a blessing in disguise for the Dutch team, as the new goal keeper stopped the next two penalties of Costa Rica.
Netherlands just needed to score a single penalty, to win the match, which they did. Netherlands qualified for the semifinals winning 4-3 on a penalty shootout.
Meanwhile, the Brazil’s soccer federation has urged FIFA to investigate and punish the Colombian player whose tackle led to the tournament ending injury of their top player, Neymar. Moreover, it has also requested to reverse the ban of their captain Thiago Silva, for the all important game against Germany to be played on Tuesday.