Dutch shootout demons return to haunt them
By Andrew Downie
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Traditional Dutch frailty in penalty shootouts again proved their Achilles heel when they lost 4-2 on spot-kicks to Argentina after a goalless World Cup semi-final on Wednesday.
Coach Louis van Gaal was forced to use defender Ron Vlaar as his first penalty taker and he was also left to regret being unable to send on his expert spot-kick saver Tim Krul for the shootout.
"I asked two players to take the first kick before deciding on Vlaar because I thought Vlaar was the best player on the field and I thought he had a great deal of confidence," Van Gaal told reporters.
"But it goes to show, when push comes to shove it is not easy to score a penalty kick. Everybody knows that."
Van Gaal did not name the other player he had asked to take the first kick, a task handed in the quarter-final win over Costa Rica to striker Robin van Persie who was substituted in extra time against Argentina.
Arjen Robben and Dirk Kuyt scored their penalties but midfielder Wesley Sneijder also missed while the Argentines converted four out of four to reach Sunday's final against Germany.
The Dutch have now lost two out of three penalty shootouts at World Cups as well as three out of four in European Championships.
"When you take one you have to score and that didn't happen, so it wasn't good enough," Vlaar said. Continued...