[BRAZIL 2014] The Netherlands stunned Mexico with goals in the 88th minute and fourth minute of stoppage time to beat El Tri, 2-1, and move into the quarterfinals.
The decision of Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca to award a penalty kick for Rafael
Marquez's challenge on Arjen Robben in the penalty area will be talked about in Mexico for a long time. The left-footed Robben cut along the end line and
as he went to his left, Marquez stuck out his foot and Robben went down. Proenca had not awarded penalty kicks on two other incidents involving Robben but did not hesitate this time.
Mexico in Round of 16:
1994: Bulgaria (1-1, 1-3 on penalties)
2002: USA (0-2)
2006: Argentina (1-2, OT)
2014: Netherlands (1-2)
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who come on for Robin van Persie, converted the penalty kick that doomed Mexico to its sixth straight exit from the round of 16. The goal came in the fourth minute of stoppage time
for the second latest goal ever scored in stoppage time.
Six minutes were added at the end of the game after FIFA-ordered water breaks in both halves because of the heat in Fortaleza,
where the temperatures hit the 90s. Dutch coach Louis van Gaal said he used the second water break at the 75-minute mark to adjust the Oranje's formation to a
"Until the very last minute," said van Gaal, "we were fresher and fitter than the Mexicans. My players deserve a big compliment. Not only did they have belief and faith that they
could perform today, they were also fit for this match."
Mexico took a deserved lead on Giovani dos Santos' goal with a left-footed drive from 30 yards in the 48th minute, but the goal proved to be the worse thing to happen to El Tri as it then sat back,
allowing the Dutch to come at it -- in particular, allowing Robben to run at the Mexican defense from deep positions.
Ten minutes later after Gio's goal,
Guillermo Ochoa, the Mexico star in the group stage, pulled another spectacular save, stopping Stefan De Vrij from point-blank range with a stop that
deflected off the post. Ochoa later stopped Robben after the Dutchman jumped over a challenge from Marquez. With van Persie less than 100 percent, it looked like El Tri would hold on and end its jinx
at the first hurdle of the knockout stage.
But the game turned in the 88th minute when Huntelaar won a header off a corner kick, and Wesley
Sneijder was left unmarked to hit a driving shot from the top of the area inside the near post that evened the score and set up the controversial finale.
Marquez said he never
touched Robben. "If you know Robben well," the Mexican captain said, "five out of 10 fouls he gets are due to dives."
Herrera insisted the percentage was higher. "Three times he dived,"
he said before acknowledging his team had not helped itself with its decision to sit back. "We'd done really well but then we sit back and we start to give chances to a team that hadn't done
The loss was eerily similar to Mexico's exit in 1998 when it fell to West Germany, 2-1. Luis Hernandez scored right after the break, but
it was not until the final 15 minutes that the game changed as the Germans won on goals by Jurgen Klinsmann and Oliver
Mexico also lost, 2-1, after taking the lead in 2006 when Argentina recovered from conceding an early goal to Marquez and won, 2-1, in overtime on Maxi Rodriguez's wonder goal.
Those exits El Tri could swallow. This one, Herrera and Company will have a hard time getting over.
June 29 in Fortaleza
Netherlands 2 Mexico 1. Goals: Sneijder 88, Huntelaar pen. 90+4; dos Santos 48.
Netherlands -- Cillessen; Blind, Vlaar, de Vrij; Kuyt, de Jong (Martins Indi 9), Wijnaldum, Verhaegh (Depay 56); Sneijder; Robben, van Persie (Huntelaar 76).
Mexico -- Ochoa; Moreno (Reyes 46), Marquez, Rodriguez; Layun, Guardado, Salcido, Herrera, Aguilar; dos Santos (Aquino 61); Peralta (Hernandez 75).