Argentina Defeats Netherlands on Penalties, Advances to World Cup Semifinals


What. A. Game.

Argentina lost a 2-0 lead after Wout Weghorst came off the bench and scored two late goals to force extra time in their quarterfinal matchup of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Friday.

It went to penalty shootouts where Argentina advanced 4-3. Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghuis missed the Dutch’s first two shots, while Argentina made its first three. In the end, Lautaro Martinez sealed the deal to send his nation to the semifinals where they will meet Croatia on Tuesday.

The Netherlands opened the game with the usual 5-2-1-2 starting shape Louis van Gaal likes to run, but this time Memphis Depay dropped to the No. 10 playmaking role with Steven Bergwijn coming in up top to pair with Cody Gakpo.

Argentina opted for a 3-5-2 shape for the first time under manager Lionel Scaloni, with Lisandro Martinez coming in at left center back.

Possession went to the Dutch early on, but they couldn’t create much once they got into their final third.

That came to bite them in the 35th minute. Lionel Messi and Nahuel Molina exchanged some passes in the right halfspace that saw Messi drift into the central part of Argentina’s attacking third that drew in three defenders. Messi then provided a no-look pass to Molina that split the Dutch’s backline to make it 1-0.

Argentina held on to the lead at halftime and could’ve made it 2-0 early on in the second half. Alexis Mac Allister broke free on the counter and had Rodrigo De Paul making a threatening run down the right-hand side, but Mac Allister’s threaded pass went too wide as De Paul would’ve had a one-on-one chance.

The Dutch then brought on Luuk De Jong in the 65th minute for Daley Blind to get more attacking options up top and reverted to a 4-4-2 shape.

However, the next goal went to Argentina when Marcos Acuna drew a penalty against Denzel Dumfries. None other than Messi lined up to take it, and he gave Andries Noppert no chance at stopping it to make it 2-0 in the 73rd minute.

The Dutch finally got on the board five minutes later when Wout Weghorst put home a header off a cross from Steven Berghuis.

But Weghorst was not done there. On a set piece in the 11th minute of stoppage time, Teun Koopmeiners went low on the free kick and gave a pass to Weghorst, who finished into the back of the net with his left foot to send the game to extra time.

The first real chance in extra time went to Lautaro Martinez in the 114th minute, but his attempt, set up brilliantly by Enzo Fernandez, was just deflected by van Dijk’s chest.

Argentina and Croatia last met in the World Cup in 2018, where the Vatreni won 3-0 in group play.

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