Monday, June 30, 2014

World Cup 2014 : Netherlands vs Mexico 2-1

A match in which underdogs Mexico dominated & lead the game till the 88 minute, ended up as the eventual losing side in the most heart breaking fashion. Football at times is indeed cruel & heart wrenching.
Mexico did everything right from the beginning & dominated their superior rivals, the Oranje Netherlands. Whether it was in attack or defense or even midfield, the men in green were certainly an edge over the Orange shirts....they had a plan in place. defending in numbers & attacking with crisp passes. Their possession was lesser, but more decisive & for the first time in the tournament Netherlands seem to wilt under pressure. De Jong had to be substituted in only the 9th minute due to injury & that somehow took away the sting from the Dutch attack. Their normal free flowing total football was missing....on the contrary, it was patchy. With the afternoon temperature rising, the Mexican looked in control.
After a goal less first half, the Mexican started the second half with renewed vigor & immediately after, in the 48th minute, Santos received a ball from Peralta at the edge of the box, allowed it to bounce a couple of times while dodging a couple of defenders crowding into him, half turned & blasted the ball into the left corner of the net. Dutch defense stood bemused & stunned. It was 1-0 for the Mexican green, as the crowd thundered in applause. The Mexican goalkeeper, Ochoa, who had denied Brazil a win in the Group stages, meanwhile lead the Mexican defense immaculately at the other end. A couple of breathtaking saves from him further deflated the Dutch, & as the match moved towards the end, Netherlands looked all but defeated. Van Gaal, the coach, having brought in Depay in the 56th minute, also removed van Persie to everyone's surprise & brought in Huntelaar with just 15 minutes to regulation time.... a master stroke or what ??? In all the last three matches, including this, the substitute player has hit the winning goal for the Dutch !!!!
Only just as it was looking all over the bar shouting & everyone had started to speak about the biggest upset so far in the making, luck turned the other way & cruelly so. Sneijder, who had been quite off colour in the tournament till now, received the ball just outside the Mexican box & unleashed a booming shot that crashed into the low right end of the net, & no one had moved.... Ochoa was probably unsighted, as he stood grounded & helpless, as the Dutch equalised 1-1, with only 2 minutes to full time. With 6 minutes added to injury time, both sides were staring at the extra time, when, Robbenm dribbled inside the Mexican box, tripped & fell, earning a penalty kick, as the referee succumbed to his theatrics. Captain Marquez earned a yellow card, as Huntelaar cooly converted the kick & with that, took Netherlands into quarterfinals 2-1. From nowhere, the Oranje had sneaked into the last 8...they had survived from near death. Had the match even gone to extra time or penalty shoot out, Mexicans would have been favourites....who knows !!!
It can only be bad luck...cruel bad luck.... heart breaking for the Mexicans who had all but scripted the biggest upset of this tournament. Coach Herrera could only watch his dreams shattered, as his young turks sat on the ground, drowned in utter disbelief.