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Goalkeeper Martinez is the hero, saving two Dutch spot kicks

Argentina beats Holland on penalties in late-night World Cup drama, heads to semis

Thrilling game tied after extra time; Messi’s team wins 4-3 on penalties; now to go up against Croatia on Tuesday after 2018 runner-up edges Brazil

  • Argentina's goalkeeper #23 Emiliano Martinez saves a shot by Netherlands' defender Virgil van Dijk in the penalty shoot-out during the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between The Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium, north of Doha on December 9, 2022. (FRANCK FIFE / AFP)
    Argentina's goalkeeper #23 Emiliano Martinez saves a shot by Netherlands' defender Virgil van Dijk in the penalty shoot-out during the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between The Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium, north of Doha on December 9, 2022. (FRANCK FIFE / AFP)
  • Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates at the end of the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. Argentina defeated the Netherlands 4-3 in a penalty shootout after the match ended tied 2-2. (AP/Ricardo Mazalan)
    Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates at the end of the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. Argentina defeated the Netherlands 4-3 in a penalty shootout after the match ended tied 2-2. (AP/Ricardo Mazalan)
  • Argentina's Lionel Messi, center, challenges for the ball with Denzel Dumfries of the Netherlands, left, Nathan Ake of the Netherlands, second left, Frenkie de Jong of the Netherlands, bottom right, Virgil van Dijk of the Netherlands, top right, during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. (AP/Thanassis Stavrakis)
    Argentina's Lionel Messi, center, challenges for the ball with Denzel Dumfries of the Netherlands, left, Nathan Ake of the Netherlands, second left, Frenkie de Jong of the Netherlands, bottom right, Virgil van Dijk of the Netherlands, top right, during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. (AP/Thanassis Stavrakis)
  • Argentina's forward #22 Lautaro Martinez celebrates after scoring his penalty and qualifying to the next round after defeating Netherlands in the penalty shoot-out of the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium, north of Doha, on December 9, 2022. (Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)
    Argentina's forward #22 Lautaro Martinez celebrates after scoring his penalty and qualifying to the next round after defeating Netherlands in the penalty shoot-out of the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium, north of Doha, on December 9, 2022. (Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)
  • Virgil van Dijk of the Netherlands helps Argentina's Lionel Messi to stand up during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. (AP/Natacha Pisarenko)
    Virgil van Dijk of the Netherlands helps Argentina's Lionel Messi to stand up during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. (AP/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • Argentina players celebrate after they won the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between The Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium, north of Doha on December 9, 2022. (PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)
    Argentina players celebrate after they won the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between The Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium, north of Doha on December 9, 2022. (PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)
  • Argentina's Lionel Messi, left, celebrates with teammates after defeating the Netherlands off penalties during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. (AP/Francisco Seco)
    Argentina's Lionel Messi, left, celebrates with teammates after defeating the Netherlands off penalties during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. (AP/Francisco Seco)
  • Netherlands players react after they lost the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between The Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium, north of Doha on December 9, 2022. (FRANCK FIFE / AFP)
    Netherlands players react after they lost the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between The Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium, north of Doha on December 9, 2022. (FRANCK FIFE / AFP)
  • Argentina supporters celebrate their team's victory in the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between The Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium, north of Doha on December 9, 2022. (JUAN MABROMATA / AFP)
    Argentina supporters celebrate their team's victory in the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between The Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium, north of Doha on December 9, 2022. (JUAN MABROMATA / AFP)
  • Argentina supporters celebrate their team's victory in the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between The Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium, north of Doha on December 9, 2022. (JUAN MABROMATA / AFP)
    Argentina supporters celebrate their team's victory in the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between The Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium, north of Doha on December 9, 2022. (JUAN MABROMATA / AFP)

DOHA, Qatar — Argentina set up a semi-final showdown with Croatia after beating the Netherlands 4-3 on penalties following a thrilling 2-2 extra-time draw in a World Cup quarter-final classic on Friday

Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was the hero in the shootout for the South Americans after Argentina squandered a Lionel Messi-engineered two-goal lead in the final minutes of normal time.

Dutch substitute Wout Weghorst scored two late goals — the second from an inventive free-kick in the 11th minute of stoppage time — as the Netherlands fought back with seven minutes of normal time remaining to force extra time.

Argentina looked poised for the last four after Messi conjured up a brilliant assist for Nahuel Molina and a clinical goal from the penalty spot.

“It’s a lot of joy, a lot of relief,” said Messi. “We didn’t want extra time or penalties. We suffered too much because of how everything happened, but it is the quarter-finals of a World Cup. We knew how to suffer when it was our turn, but we got through to the semi-finals.

“It’s beautiful, something impressive,” he added.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrates at the end of the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. Argentina defeated the Netherlands 4-3 in a penalty shootout after the match ended tied 2-2. (AP/Ricardo Mazalan)

For the Dutch, it was a bitterly disappointing end to their tournament and they have now lost six of their last eight shoot-outs in major championships since 1992.

“We have been practicing penalties all year and despite everything, we failed. It’s a shame,” said coach Louis van Gaal.

“As a coach, I want to have everything under control. That’s why I asked the players to take penalties for their clubs, they all did. But if you miss two, you won’t win. You just can’t get over a streak like this,” he said.

The Lusail Stadium was turned into a home for Argentina with the vast majority of the 88,235 people in the crowd backing the South American team and only a smattering of orange shirts in the crowd.

But all were treated to a thrilling late-night drama that finally reached its conclusion just before 1 a.m. local time on Saturday.

After a cagey start, Messi produced a moment of inspiration, ten minutes before the interval, to create the opener for his team.

Argentina’s goalkeeper #23 Emiliano Martinez saves a shot by Netherlands’ defender #04 Virgil van Dijk in the penalty shoot-out during the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between The Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium, north of Doha on December 9, 2022. (FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

Offering no clues of his intent, he split open the Dutch defense with a sublime reverse pass between Daley Blind and Virgil van Dijk into the path of Molina who timed his run perfectly and slotted home with the outside of his foot.

Van Gaal responded at the break by making a double change, bringing Teun Koopmeiners and Steven Berghuis on into midfield in place of Bergwijn and Marten De Roon.

But while the Dutch saw plenty of the ball their play remained too predictable and guileless.

Free-kick genius

Deservedly, the Argentines extended their lead in the 73rd minute after Denzel Dumfries tripped Marcos Acuna in the box and Messi made no mistake from the spot, burying the ball in the corner.

The Dutch, though, were not about to go out with a whimper — pulling a goal back, seven minutes from the end, with an angled glancing header from Weghorst from a Berghuis cross from deep.

Ten minutes of added time raised Dutch hopes and – tempers with a couple of mass confrontations – and they moved Van Dijk up front and pumped balls into the box.

Deep into added time, one of those high balls led to a free-kick just outside the area.

Argentina’s Nahuel Molina, center, celebrates his opening goal during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. (AP/Hassan Ammar)

Koopmeiners feigned an expected shot before instead, to everyone’s surprise, playing a short pass into Weghorst, who twisted past Enzo Fernandez and poked home the equalizer.

The wild celebrations over, the game went into extra time and curiously became calm, only coming back to life late in the second period.

In a frantic final two minutes, Lautaro Martinez forced a diving save out of Noppert and Messi screwed a shot wide and only the post kept out a long-range drive from Fernandez.

After all that, it was penalties.

Martinez saved from Van Dijk and Berghuis to help Argentina into a 2-0 lead.

This time there was no way back for the Dutch as, even despite a miss from Fernandez, Argentina held on to win the shoot-out and head into the semi-finals.

The loss ended Louis van Gaal’s third stint in charge of the Netherlands and Messi shared a moment with the 71-year-old coach at the end.

Argentina will play Croatia in the semifinals on Tuesday after the 2018 runner-up beat Brazil earlier Friday.

It is only the second time Argentina has reached the last four since 1990. In 2014, Messi was part of the team that lost to Germany in the final.

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