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World Cup Blog: Argentina through but Germany the real winners

Argentina players celebrate victory in the penalty shoot-out during the FIFA World Cup semi-final. Pic: PA Wire/Press Association Images Argentina players celebrate victory in the penalty shoot-out during the FIFA World Cup semi-final. Pic: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Thursday, July 10, 2014
7:00 AM

World Cup semi-final: Argentina 0 Holland 0 (Argentina win 4-2 on penalties)

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Argentina came through this second semi-final, but the real winners last night were their opponents at the Maracana in Sunday’s final.

The South Americans have played an extra 30 minutes, while the Germans sat back relaxing in their hotel after their exploits against the hosts.

Add to that the poor performance of both Holland and Argentina and there is surely only one winner.

While the Brazil v Germany semi-final was action-packed and one of shock, this was the complete opposite.

Both sides were rigid at the back and hard to break down, in stark contrast to Brazil minus Thiago Silva

Neither team were willing to give an inch for fear of making a mistake with both key men Arjen Robben and Lionel Messi well marshalled and limited to very little of the ball.

Argentina were probably slightly edging it, but only just. Messi warmed the palms of Jasper Cillessen, before Ezequiel Garay headed the subsequent corner wide under pressure from Ron Vlaar.

But that was it; both seemed content with their first half showings, though for us viewers it appeared to be the calm after Tuesday night’s storm.

Little changed in the second period though Gonzalo Higuain went close when getting on the end of Enzo Perez’s ball in, only to find the side netting.

Robben had been kept quiet for 90 minutes by the Argentinian, but in the first minute of added time he finally got his chance.

The Bayern Munich man was put through but his shot was well blocked by the battle hardened Javier Mascherano, who had performed admirably all night.

If you get extra time, penalties generally follow, and it always looked on the cards.

That was until a gilt-edged chance fell to the pony-tailed Argentina substitute Rodrigo Palacio but he tamely headed straight into Cillessen’s hands and then fellow sub Maxi Rodriguez fluffed another effort as the game drew to a close.

Penalties would follow, but now Holland would have to it without Tim Krul, and Cillessen hadn’t saved a penalty in his entire career – it all boded well for Argentina.

And the Dutch stopper didn’t change that statistic as Sergio Romero expertly denied Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder from the spot.

Cillessen did get close to the final two penalties, but Argentina would face Germany for a third World Cup final as the latter look to end their 24-year wait for the title.

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