• ‘We said nothing to Jasper Cillessen about the plan’
• Holland into World Cup semi-finals to face Argentina
Louis van Gaal claimed he had always planned to throw the substitute goalkeeper, Tim Krul, on to the pitch at the end of extra time to become Holland’s unlikely shootout hero.
At the end of a breathless 120 minutes in which Costa Rica had dealt with everything the Dutch could throw at them, Van Gaal sent the Newcastle United goalkeeper on for Jasper Cillessen. Krul went on to save penalties from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umaña to book Holland a semi-final with Argentina in São Paulo on Wednesday.
Van Gaal said of his gamble: “We thought it through. 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 would have seen that Tim dived to the right corner twice. We’re a tiny bit proud this trick has helped us through.”
He said that he had discussed the plan with Krul, whose longer reach he thought would help him in the shootout, but not with Cillessen. “We said nothing to Jasper because we didn’t want him to know before the game. 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.”
Krul said he knew there was a chance he could be thrown into the fray at the end of extra time. “I did not realise it was so late. I had spent the whole match on the bench. We had chance after chance and had not taken them,” he said. “Then you’re suddenly thrown in and don’t have time to think, saved two penalties and now we’re in the semi-finals of the World Cup.”
Van Gaal also paid tribute to Cillessen, who saved from Marco Ureña with three minutes to go. “It was exciting, thrilling. They had their only chance in the 117th minute. We had all the chances but, if Cillessen doesn’t save that, we’re out.
“I don’t know how much of the ball we had and how many shots against the woodwork and how many chances we had. It goes to show a goal is the most important thing. Nothing else counts, especially in a tournament like this.”
Jorge Luis Pinto, the Costa Rica manager, said he was “hurt but happy” after his side went close to making the semi-finals and pulling off a huge shock. “We’ve shown everybody we’re able to play, have good tactics and were never afraid. We tried to play football and presented a positive and dignified image of our country,” he said. “Of course we are hurt because penalties are very tough.”
Pinto praised Arjen Robben as one of the best players in the world but also paid tribute to Keylor Navas, the Costa Rica goalkeeper who was man of the match after repelling wave after wave of Oranje attacks.
“Navas has been the best keeper of this World Cup. I must say so. Maybe Krul might not have saved any. It’s a question of luck,” he said.