FORTALEZA — Two goals in the final minutes of their last 16 match saw Netherlands come from a goal behind to beat Mexico 2-1 at the Estadio Castelao yesterday to progress into the quarterfinals of the 2014 Fifa World Cup.
A goal from Wesley Sneijder in the 88th minute cancelled out Giovani Dos Santos’ opener before a 94th minute penalty goal from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar handed the Dutch the victory.
The opening 45 minutes saw Mexico playing the better football and with more efforts on goal as the Dutch struggled to deal with the 42 degree heat.
Mexico’s first decent effort of the half came in the fifth minute when Miguel Layun fired a 25-yard shot inches wide of the post.
Netherlands did suffer a bit of a set-back in the tenth minute when Nigel de Jong had to leave the field injured (groin) and was replaced by Bruno Martins.
Roughly ten minutes later a swift passing movement from Mexico saw Hector Herrera in space 16-yards out, but his low shot skimmed the wrong side of the crossbar.
Dos Santos came closest to the half’s opening goal in the 42nd minute when he broke behind the Dutch defence, but saw his six-yard shot form an acute angle well-saved by the keeper.
Three minutes into the second half, however, and Dos Santos did open the scoring for Mexico with 24-yard shot that found the top right corner of the net, 1-0.
Netherlands took control of the game after that and came close to levelling matters in the 57th minute when Stefan De Vrij met a flicked on corner-kick, but his close range volley was touched onto the post by the Mexican keeper.
The Dutch continued to press forward and were rewarded with the equaliser when Sneijder volleyed the ball home in thunderous fashion from the edge of the box, 1-1.
Things then turned for the worse for Mexico when Rafael Marquez pulled Robben down inside the box in the 92nd minute and the referee pointed to the penalty spot.
Huntelaar stepped up and made no mistake to send his side through to the quarterfinals, 2-1. The Dutch advance to a meeting with Costa Rica or Greece, who played later yesterday.
Meanwhile, the World Cup had its first cooling breaks of the tournament during the last-16 match between Netherlands and Mexico in Fortaleza yesterday.
It took place in both halves when referee Pedro Proenca signalled a three-minute time-out as temperatures reached above 32C inside the stadium.
Both set of players rehydrated with drinks, while both coaches took the opportunity to give team-talks. The heat forced fans to move to the back of the stadium to get shelter.
Fifa said in a statement: “Climate conditions will be evaluated and should the temperature exceed 32 degrees, then the Fifa venue medical office will recommend cooling breaks to the Fifa general coordinator and match commissioner.
“Cooling breaks last three minutes in duration are then implemented by the referee at approximately 30 minutes into the run-of-play in both halves of the match (ie around the 30th minute and 75th minute respectively).
“Three minutes will then be added to stoppage time at the end of each half.”