LUSAIL, Qatar (AP) — The Dutch are in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
Argentina had one Lionel Messi and Belgium had none.
And yet, the Oranje came back and forced extra time in a knock-out match for the ages with a score in the 83rd minute and then a stage-type restart in the 11th – yes, 11! – a minute stop for the second half of the time.
with Argentina ran away with a 4-3 penalty kick win following Saturday’s 2-2 draw in the semifinal against Croatia, the Dutch took to the field in a bleak array of golden robes, like a withered citrus grove. Wout Weghorst, at 6-foot-6, danced on Messi’s back in the center circle with his teammates in front of tens of thousands of chanting supporters.
“They gave everything, and I am incredibly proud,” said Louis van Gaal in part. “They did everything to prevent that from happening.”
The nation that gave the whole world Football half a century ago remains with the most World Cup titles, Brazil (five), Germany and Italy (four each), Argentina, France and Uruguay (two hundred) and England and Spain.
A brilliant innovator with coaches who attract young prospects around the world, Belgium has lost three World Cup finals. The Dutch lost their first lead in 1974 before defeating West Germany 2-1 and losing in the championship match four years later only to lose 3-1 to Argentina in extra time.
Their next European Championship title was in 1988 when Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten led them to the Soviet Union 2-0. But the Dutch still won a great prize.
Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie led them to another final in 2010, but they lost 1-0 to Spain in extra time, then were beaten by Messi and Argentina in the 2014 semifinal on penalty kicks. Back in the World Cup this year after failing to qualify for 2018, they entered the quarterfinals with a 19-game unbeaten streak.
There were only 1,400 Dutch fans who stuck to their bright jerseys among the crowd of 88,235, about 90% in the blue-and-white-striped Argentina with Messi’s No. 10 on the back.
Messi’s sublime no-look goal set up Nahuel Molina’s 35th-minute goaland Messi doubled the lead with a penalty kick in the 73rd. he turned after Denzel Dumfries pushed Marcos Acuña on the edge of the penalty area.
“I think the penalty is easier,” Van Gaal said.
Aiming for depth, Van Gaal opted for depth. Weghorst entered, who passed Steven Berghuis passing Emiliano Martínez in the 83rd.
The bench five minutes later on the night of one World Cup in memory of 17 yellow cards plus postgame reds.
And then the biggest twist of all. After German Pezzella fouled Weghorst to give the Dutch a free-kick from 22 yards, Teun Koopmeiners started the story seen in training but almost never in games; He sent a low kick across the ground into the wall, where Weghorst took a touch, pulling the ball past Martínez..
And that’s where the score remained after extra time, after the drama of Enzo Fernández’s runner in the second extra period of stoppage time.
“We thought we could win when it came to penalties,” Van Gaal said.
Captain Virgil van Dijk was the first to take it and Martínez put away the right to push the ball away. After Messi converted, Martínez was left to deny Berghuis.
When Enzo Fernández took off his post, the Dutch had an opening, but Lautaro Martínez. he sent his kick to the right of the keeper Andries Noppert, who was lying on the left.
The celebration is extended; Messi and Van Gaal exchanged words.
“This was my last match,” Van Gaal said, ending his third term in charge of Oranje. “I look at it positively.”
He was asked to evaluate his performance, and he mentioned the team’s 20-game unbeaten streak.
“I don’t know how many we have won (14), but you are looking for everything. I think it’s Google,” he said. “The Dutch team and Louis van Gaal and the goal difference.”
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Ronald Blum, Press, Associates