What's buzzing:

Argentina defeats Netherlands 4-2 in penalty shootout to advance to World Cup final

Yahoo Sports

SAO PAULO – Four minutes of intense drama followed 120 minutes of stalemate on Wednesday, as Argentina booked its place in the World Cup final after surviving a thrilling penalty shootout against the Netherlands.

With the score locked at 0-0 after extra time, Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero was the hero, saving kicks from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder to take his country into the final for the first time since 1990.

Maxi Rodriguez converted the fourth and ultimately decisive penalty for Argentina and the Netherlands fell short again, having also lost on spot kicks in the 1998 semifinal while finishing as runners-up on three occasions.

[Gallery: World Cup semifinal - Netherlands vs. Argentina]

Argentina will now meet Germany at the Maracana Stadium on Sunday in what will be an epic matchup between old rivals. It was successful as Diego Maradona led the team to the trophy in 1986, but fell short in 1990 with the Germans clinching the title.

It was not the best of games and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi struggled to get going, but neither he, nor his country, will care much about that now. All it is worried about is regrouping for the biggest game of all.

With a minute of regulation to go, the Netherlands had its best chance and one of the best of the night. Arjen Robben did what he has done all tournament, but hadn’t been able to on this night, and skipped through the defense to bear down on goal. Just in time, Robben was denied as Javier Mascherano stuck out his boot with perfect timing to block the Dutchman’s attempt and ensure extra time.

In the additional 30 minutes, things opened up a little but not much. The best chance fell to Argentine substitute Rodrigo Palacio, who found himself chasing after a bouncing ball and clear on goal but made the unwise decision to head it instead of letting it drop. He could only aim his effort at goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.

[Related: Argentina reaches World Cup semifinal after shootout]

And so to penalties it went. The Dutch had already survived the nailbiting format soccer uses to break its ties, outdueling Costa Rica in the quarterfinal with the help of some trash talking and fine saves from late sub Tim Krul.

Krul was not available this time, with coach Louis Van Gaal having already used up his full allocation of bench players.

Ron Vlaar, such a defensive hero for 120 minutes, missed with the first kick, with the Dutch complaining in vain that Argentina goalkeeper Romero had moved off his line, and early.

Messi struck home to give Argentina the advantage, and they would never let it slip. Robben scored for the Netherlands but so did Ezekiel Garay, and then Romero leapt to his right to further tighten the South Americans’ grip.

Sergio Aguero’s penalty was clutch, and after Dirk Kuyt merely delayed the inevitable, Rodriguez rifled the ball home to send his nation into delirium.

One more win and Argentina will be in soccer heaven.

View Comments (294)
  • Gordon scores late, Galaxy blank Dynamo

    Alan Gordon scored on a header in stoppage time to give the L.A. Galaxy a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo 1-0 on Friday night, ending a five-game winless streak. Gordon's soft touch with the header caught goalkeeper Tyler Deric flat-footed 90 … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 8 minutes ago
  • Fire tie Crew on Johnson's goal in 94th

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Jason Johnson scored 4 minutes into stoppage time to give the Chicago Fire a 2-2 tie with the Columbus Crew on Friday night. … More »

    AP - Sports - 3 hours ago
  • Beckham, Univ. of Miami discuss stadium

    Beckham, Univ. of Miami discuss stadium

    David Beckham and the University of Miami are discussing a possible partnership for a new stadium for both Major League Soccer and college football. Beckham was in town for a meeting Friday, and outgoing University of Miami President Donna Shalala … More »

    AP - Sports - 5 hours ago
  • Queens Park Rangers-Leicester City Preview

    Leicester will be celebrating a great escape from relegation with their home supporters as they welcome doomed Queens Park Rangers to the King Power Stadium on the final day of the Premier League season. The Foxes (10-8-19) were bottom of the table … More »

    AP - Sports - 5 hours ago
  • Mirror Image: Robinson sees lots of similarities between Whitecaps, Rapids

    The Vancouver Whitecaps and Colorado Rapids might be sitting at opposite ends of the standings, but Carl Robinson says Saturday's game will be like looking in the mirror. "I see a team that's pretty similar to ourselves," the Whitecaps' head coach … More »

    The Canadian Press - 6 hours ago