Dutch eye last four after great Mexican escape

Mon Jun 30, 2014 12:07pm EDT
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By Gideon Long

FORTALEZA Brazil (Reuters) - They were minutes away from elimination against Mexico but having pulled off one of the great escapes of the World Cup, the Dutch are in a strong position to reach the semifinals.

With two minutes to play against the Mexicans in Sunday's second-round clash, Louis van Gaal's side were 1-0 down and heading for the exit.

But midfielder Wesley Sneijder pulled them level before Klaas-Jan Huntelaar crashed home their winner from the penalty spot in the 94th minute.

"Orange Miracle" ran the headline in the online edition of leading Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. "The Dutch team stood on the brink of the abyss."

Several papers analyzed the controversial Dutch penalty that gave them their winner after Arjen Robben went down in the box under a challenge from Mexican captain Rafael Marquez.

Marquez clearly stepped on Robben's toe as the Dutchman tried to wriggle past him but, not for the first time in the match or his career, Robben made the most of the incident by going down in dramatic style.

Robben later insisted it was a penalty although admitted to diving earlier in the match, describing his own behavior on that occasion as "stupid".

The Dutch now face Costa Rica on Saturday in Salvador, scene of their 5-1 demolition of defending champions Spain in their opening match of the tournament.   Continued...

Netherlands' national soccer player Wesley Sneijder kicks the ball during a training session  in Rio de Janeiro June 30, 2014, after their 2014 World Cup round of 16 match win against Mexico.  REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes