Romero the hero as Argentina edge Dutch in shootout

Wed Jul 9, 2014 8:54pm EDT
 
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By Peter Rutherford

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Argentina's launched himself left and right to save two penalties in a 4-2 shootout win over the Netherlands on Wednesday that sealed the South Americans' first World Cup final appearance in 24 years.

After the teams battled to a 0-0 draw in the first ever goalless semi-final, Romero plunged low to his left to save the first kick from Dutch defender Ron Vlaar, then flew high to his right to palm away Wesley Sneijder's effort.

The pressure of scoring the winning penalty kick fell to Argentina substitute Maxi Rodriguez, who picked power over placement and, while Jasper Cillessen got a hand to the ball, it ricocheted up off the underside of the bar and into the net.

Twice champions Argentina now travel to Rio de Janeiro for Sunday's final against old rivals Germany, who thrashed hosts Brazil 7-1 in the other semi-final in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.

It will be a repeat of the 1986 and 1990 finals and the first time the same two teams will have faced each other three times in the title decider.

Goalkeeping hero Romero, who clutched the ball tight as he spoke to reporters after the game, put his saves down to a lot of self-belief and a little luck.

"...I'm really happy with everything," he said in a televised interview. "(Penalties) are a question of luck, that's the reality ... I had confidence in myself and, fortunately, everything turned out well."

While Romero basked in the limelight, Cillessen's head hung low as he was consoled by his team mates.   Continued...

 
Argentina's goalkeeper Sergio Romero reacts after saving a goal attempt from Ron Vlaar of the Netherlands during a penalty shoot-out during their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo July 9, 2014. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler