Dutch, Costa Rica through after nerve-wracking drama

Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:58pm EDT
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By Brian Homewood

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The World Cup served up more nerve-shredding drama with Netherlands scoring two late goals to beat shattered Mexico 2-1 and 10-man Costa Rica bouncing back from conceding a stoppage time equalizer to oust Greece on penalties on Sunday.

Dutch forward Arjen Robben was at the center of another diving controversy after he won the injury-time penalty which Klaas-Jan Huntelaar converted to hand Mexico their sixth successive second round exit in the cruelest possible manner.

Giovani Dos Santos had given Mexico the lead early in the second half in scorching conditions in Fortaleza and they appeared set to goal through until Wesley Sneijder smashed home an equalizer two minutes from time.

Mexico's fellow CONCACAF side Costa Rica also took a second half lead through Bryan Ruiz and, despite having Oscar Duarte sent off after 66 minutes, were moments from victory before Sokratis Papasthathopoulos sent the game into extra time.

The exhausted Ticos held on for a 1-1 draw and won 5-3 on penalties, making them the first CONCACAF quarter-finalists since United States in 2002.

They now face the Dutch on Saturday in Salvador.

The weather clearly affected the Dutch match which kicked off at 1300 local time in tropical Fortaleza with the temperature at 32 Celsius and humidity at 68 percent, prompting the first official water breaks of the tournament.

Conditions were made worse because a large part of the pitch was in the baking sun for much of the game and it was so hot that swathes of seats in the sun were left unoccupied.   Continued...

Arjen Robben of the Netherlands celebrates after winning their 2014 World Cup round of 16 game against Mexico at the Castelao arena in Fortaleza June 29, 2014. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler