Argentina beat Dutch in shootout to reach final
By Peter Rutherford
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Argentina's Sergio Romero saved two penalties in a 4-2 shootout win over the Netherlands to seal their first World Cup final place in 24 years after the first ever goalless semi-final at the end of extra time on Wednesday.
Romero plunged low to his left to save the first penalty kick from defender Ron Vlaar and then made a superb stop from Wesley Sneijder as Argentina's jubilant fans went wild at the Corinthians arena.
The pressure of scoring the winning penalty kick fell to Argentina substitute Maxi Rodriguez who slotted high past Jasper Cillessen, with the Dutch keeper failing to emulate the heroics of backup Tim Krul in their quarter-final win over Costa Rica.
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.
With Brazil's harrowing defeat still fresh in the mind, caution was the watchword of a tactical first half as both sides felt each other out and battled for possession across the pitch in a defense-dominated encounter short on entertainment.
Nigel de Jong, best known for his chest-high kick on Spain's Xabi Alonso in the 2010 final which the Dutch lost, completed a remarkable recovery from a groin injury to play in midfield and clearly had orders to shadow Argentine playmaker Lionel Messi.
Argentina had equalled their longest winning streak at a World Cup with their 1-0 victory over Belgium in the quarter-finals, but all five of those wins were by one-goal margins and they were even less creative without the injured Angel di Maria. Continued...