|Netherlands players, after the victory, on Saturday
Salvador: Louis van Gaal has revealed that The Netherlands’ goalkeeper, Jasper Cillessen, was kept in the dark about plans to turn to Tim Krul if the quarter final against Costa Rica was to be decided by penalties.
The Netherlands will play Argentina in Wednesday’s semi-final in Sao Paulo after Newcastle goalkeeper Krul saved two Costa Rican penalties in a 4-3 shoot-out victory in Salvador.
Van Gaal only made the audacious move to replace Ajax keeper Cillessen — who has never saved a penalty in his senior career — in the dying seconds of extra-time, throwing on Krul after instructing the understudy to perform a lengthy warm-up.
And the Dutch admitted that Cillessen had no idea that he would be taken off if the game went to spot-kicks.
“We said nothing to Jasper because we didn’t want him to know before the game,” Van Gaal said.
“But as I’ve explained, every ’keeper has specific qualities.
“Tim has a longer reach and a better track record with penalties than Cillessen.
“We had discussed it with Tim. He knew about their penalties because he needed to be prepared.
“It worked out. If it hadn’t, it would have been my mistake.
“Every player has certain skills and qualities and they don’t always coincide. We felt Tim would be the most appropriate ’keeper to save penalties. You have seen that Tim dived to the right corner twice. We are a tiny bit proud that this trick has helped us through.”
Van Gaal has confirmed that Cillessen will reclaim his place in goal for the clash against Argentina.
Going into penalties, the Dutch were seeking to improve on their record of one victory in five previous shootouts in major tournaments.
In their previous match, Costa Rica scored all five penalties to beat Greece and earn a place in the last eight.
The Netherlands dominated Saturday’s game in Salvador, enjoying 64 percent of possession and having 15 shots on target to Costa Rica’s three.
But even with a three-pronged attack comprising Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Memphis Depay, the Dutch could not break down Costa Rica, although they hit the woodwork three times and were facing an inspired ’keeper in Keylor Navas.
Van Gaal suggested he was having doubts about his tactics as the game wore on.
“I asked the players if we should carry on with the tactics when we had breaks, and they all said an emphatic ‘yes’ to me,” he said.
He also expressed frustration at what he considered to be time-wasting by Costa Rica, who appeared to be the happier of the two sides to take the game to penalties.
“My players carried themselves well with the time-wasting, which the referee did little to stop,” said Van Gaal.
“I must take my hat off to my squad. It is very frustrating for us as we sit on the sidelines. You know that if you miss so many chances the game can turn.”
That turning point nearly came in the 117th minute, when, in a rare break, Marco Urena found space to get a powerful shot on target, but Cillessen was up to the task and blocked it.
“Before that, not one chance,” said Van Gaal. “But it could have been a different story... That is the football life of a coach.”
Looking ahead to Wednesday’s semi-final against Argentina in Sao Paulo, the Dutch coach said they were in for a tough time. “Make no mistake, Argentina are a very strong team with very strong individuals, like (Lionel) Messi,” he said.
The Netherlands: Jasper Cillessen (Tim Krul, 120+1); Stefan de Vrij, Ron Vlaar, Bruno Martins Indi (Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, 106), Dirk Kuyt, Daley Blind; Arjen Robben, Georginio Wijnaldum, Wesley Sneijder; Robin van Persie, Memphis Depay (Jeremain Lens, 76)
Costa Rica: Keylor Navas; Cristian Gamboa (Dave Myrie, 79), Michael Umana, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Johnny Acosta, Junior Diaz; Christian Bolanos, Yeltsin Tejeda (Jose Miguel Cubero, 97), Celso Borges; Bryan Ruiz; Joel Campbell (Marco Urena, 66)
Man of the Match: Keylor Navas
Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)