World Cup semifinal: ARG-NED (July 9)
Semifinal: Argentina 0 (4), Netherlands 0 (2)
SAO PAULO — It's Argentina's greatest delight and Brazil's worst nightmare.
Argentina's soccer team has beaten the Netherlands to win a berth into the World Cup championship match — on archrival Brazil's soil, and just a day after Brazil was humiliated in a 7-1 loss to Germany.
Goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved two penalties in the 4-2 shootout win over the Netherlands after the game finished in a 0-0 stalemate.
Romero — thought to be a weak link in this Argentine team and not even a starter for his Monaco club most of last season — blocked penalties by Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder. For Argentina, Lionel Messi, Ezequiel Garay, Sergio Aguero and Maxi Rodriguez all converted their spot kicks.
“It’s luck, that’s the truth,” Romero said. “You can dive [the right way] and not make it, like [what] happened to their goalkeeper. I had confidence, thank God things turned out well.”
Argentina fan Rodrigo Aisen wept with joy as his team knocked in a fourth goal to secure the penalty shootout win. He celebrated with 20,000 others in the FIFA Fan Fest watch party in Sao Paulo and sealed the victory by giving his girlfriend a long kiss.
He said that "God knows we suffered" with the tight match that had to be decided by penalties. "But everything is good now, everything is joy!"
In a matchup of two of football’s powerhouse nations, two-time champion Argentina will play three-time winner Germany in Sunday’s final at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.