Costa Rica (2-0-2) vs. Netherlands (4-0-0), 4 p.m. (ET)
07/05/2014 8:10 AM
07/05/2014 8:13 AM
Salvador, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - Costa Rica attempts to continue its Cinderella run at the World Cup when the Ticos tangle with the Netherlands on Saturday in the quarterfinals at the Arena Fonte Nova.
Costa Rica reached the last eight for the first time after topping Greece in penalty kicks in the round of 16, while the Dutch are attempting to reach back-to-back World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1974 and 1978.
The Ticos were viewed as outsiders in Group D, which included Italy, England and Uruguay, but after claiming seven points to win that group, Jorge Luis Pinto's team came up against a stubborn Greek side making its first-ever knockout-round appearance.
Bryan Ruiz scored early in the second half to put Costa Rica in front, but after defender Oscar Duarte received a second yellow card in the 66th minute, Pinto's team spent much of the remainder of the match defending.
They almost got over the line, but Sokratis Papastathopoulos scored for Greece in stoppage time, forcing the match into extra time and ultimately penalty kicks.
But Costa Rica survived the ordeal to win 5-3 in the shootout, showing the resilience the team has exhibited throughout the tournament.
"It was a dramatic match, a very difficult one," Pinto said after the game with Greece. "There were moments when we dominated the match but there were other moments when they did but we were strong and we came through."
If Costa Rica is going to continue its journey, the team is going to have to be even stronger against the favored Dutch, who have won all four of their games at this World Cup.
The team trailed 1-0 against Mexico in the round of 16 entering the final five minutes, but Wesley Sneijder fired home the equalizer a few minutes from time before Arjen Robben drew a foul inside the penalty area, allowing Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to fire home the winning goal from the spot.
Louis van Gaal's side has made a habit of coming back in Brazil as the team has given up the first goal in three of its four games so far, only to rally for the win each time.
"I think we are on a mission together, and when you come to a World Cup it's not to enjoy the weather and enjoy the beach in Rio," said Robben, who has tallied three goals and an assist so far. "You're here to win matches and to go as far as possible. I don't think the expectations were that high before the tournament and, as a result, we can be very proud of where we are."
The Dutch found themselves in a tough group with Spain, Chile and Australia, but after winning all three games to sit atop the group, the Oranje have a great chance at making another deep run.
Things have come together nicely for the Dutch as the team ended up with a pair of teams from CONCACAF in its first two knockout-round games, making Van Gaal's men favorites to reach the last four.
But Robben isn't looking too far past the Ticos, especially since the team has already toppled favored sides like Italy and Uruguay.
"I think they're a very strong team. We have to stay focused," Robben told FIFA.com. "Costa Rica have a very good team, they have already proved that in their group, which was very tough, with Italy, England and Uruguay in there. They've been really impressive and we'll have to prepare very well if we're going to beat them."
One player who won't be available to Van Gaal the rest of the tournament is midfielder Nigel de Jong, who was forced off the field against Mexico after nine minutes because of a groin injury.
Costa Rica will be a bit shorthanded in defense after Duarte's red card, while Roy Miller is unlikely to be fit in time to face the Dutch because of a foot injury.
Pinto's team will once again embrace the role of underdogs, and although they have made history already in Brazil, don't expect the Ticos to be content.
"We respect the Netherlands, just as we respect all our rivals, but the story goes on and we're hungry for more," Pinto said.
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