A couple of days back, Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal brought Costa Rica's dream run to an end by substituting keeper Tim Krul in the dying seconds of extra-time. Krul saved two penalties to ensure that the Dutch advanced to the semi-finals.Against Argentina, he ended up on the losing side, after Holland's second successive penalty shootout. Argentina beat the Netherlands 4-2 in the shootout after a goalless 120 minutes of open play at Sao Paulo.
Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero saves Netherlands midfielder Wesley Sneijder's penalty in the shootout. (AFP Photo)
Argentina goalie Sergio Romero proved to be the man who sent Van Gaal and the Dutch packing. Call it a twist of fate that Romero had once been groomed by Van Gaal.
In the post-match conference, Van Gaal pointed out the irony, saying, "I taught Romero how to stop penalties and that hurts."
Romero was managed by Van Gaal when he joined AZ Alkmaar in 2007. He was the third-choice keeper for quite some time, before a string of poor performances from their star Boy Waterman forced Van Gaal to pick Romero in February 2008.
Van Gaal had brought Romero with a hope of turning him into a star, but little did he know that this arrow would come back to destroy his World Cup dreams.
Romero moved from AZ Alkmaar to Sampdoria for €2.1 million in 2011 when he was in prime form. This move didn't do his reputation any good as his performances started declining rapidly.
He currently plies his trade for Monaco, and has earned national coach Alejandro Sabella's confidence despite a lack of regular first team football at his club this season.
After this loss, the Netherlands will face Brazil in Saturday's third-fourth place play-off. Van Gaal described this as a pointless exercise, saying it had nothing to do with sports.
"I think this match should never be played and I've been saying this for 10 years. It is unfair we have one day less to recover than our opponent so that is not fair play either," he added.
"But the worst thing is I believe that chances are that you lose twice in a row. And a tournament in which you've played so marvelously well, you would go home as a loser just because you could possibly have lost the last two matches and this has got nothing to do with sports in my view.
"So, in a football tournament, particularly not at the last stage, you shouldn't have players playing match for third-fourth place. Because there is only one award that counts and that is becoming world champion."
(This copy has been done with inputs from Reuters)