Keylor Navas and his Costa Rican teammates came thisclose to pulling off one of the biggest ever FIFA World Cup shocks.
The 27-year-old Costa Rican footballer and his fellow Los Ticos teammates gave the Netherlands an almighty scare, keeping the Dutch scoreless, denying stars like Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder any glory at every turn.
The Netherlands may have dominated all but the first 20 of the 120 minutes of the intense game, hitting the woodwork, reining in shot after shot and creatingchance after chance, but still couldn’t find a way past the Los Ticos goalkeeper, who has been the hero of his country and looks to be a major contender to win the Golden Gloves award for best keeper of the tournament.
But Costa Rica and Navas’ luck would eventually run out in the penalty shootout.
With seconds left in extra time and penalties looming, Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal made World Cup history by taking out his number one, Jasper Cillessen, and replacing him with Newcastle custodian Tim Krul.
Krul didn’t let his boss down, saving two of Costa Ricas’ penalty shots to ensure that his team advanced.
Navas had kept clean sheets against England and Italy, conceded only from the penalty spot against Uruguay, and had then produced a wonderful save in the shootout against Greece to ensure the outsiders’ place in the last eight. It will be scant consolation to him or his colleagues, but history will record that he kept a clean sheet again this time.
The Levante goalkeeper was at it again throughout this match where the men in orange held sway but simply could not find a way past the Tico keeper.
Navas made numerous saves, diving to his right, diving bravely at the feet of onrushing attackers, saving with his own feet: it seemed that however the Dutch tried to breach his goal they would not succeed.
The Netherlands’ win over Costa Rica set up a World Cup semifinal meeting with Argentina next Wednesday in Sao Paulo.