On a blistering day in Fortaleza, Brazil, the Netherlands and Mexico not only had to deal with playing their first game in the knockout stages against incredibly difficult opposition, but had to contest against extreme fatigue and exhaustion as well.
Just how hot was it? Well, here's a look at one of the "cooling breaks" taken in the early game, courtesy of a tweet from IndySport:
Needless to say, if you were hoping for some dramatic 2014 World Cup action on Sunday, you got it.
With a couple of compelling matches featuring a bevy of star-studded talent taking place on Day 17, let's take a look at each game's results and overview the updated race for the Golden Boot.
|Team 1||Result||Team 2|
|Costa Rica||1-1 (5-3)||Greece|
Golden Boot Watch
|World Cup Goalscorers|
|Robin van Persie||Netherlands||3|
|Clint Dempsey||United States||2|
|Wilfried Bony||Ivory Coast||2|
|Bryan Ruiz||Costa Rica||2|
|Avdija Vrsajevic||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1|
|Lee Keun-Ho||South Korea||1|
|Joel Campbell||Costa Rica||1|
|Oscar Duarte||Costa Rica||1|
|Marcos Urena||Costa Rica||1|
|Stefan de Vrij||Netherlands||1|
|Vedad Ibisevic||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1|
|John Anthony Brooks||United States||1|
|Edin Dzeko||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1|
|Miralem Pjanic||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1|
|Son Heung Min||South Korea||1|
|Koo Jacheol||South Korea||1|
|Jermaine Jones||United States||1|
|Giovani dos Santos||Mexico||1|
|Sunday Scorers Highlighted|
The round of 16 continued Sunday with yet another tantalizing match between Mexico and the Netherlands.
The match didn't quite start in the manner the Dutch had hoped for, as midfielder Nigel de Jong was seen hobbling on the pitch and needed to be substituted very early in the match. Jeff Carlisle of ESPN tweeted the occurrence:
With that huge blow to the Dutch, Mexico quickly took control of the match in the first half.
The Mexicans fired away at goal while the Dutch appeared to be sluggish all over the pitch. Perhaps this was due to the onset of heat exhaustion from the intense on-field temperatures.
Brooks Peck of Dirty Tackle summed it up in rather humorous fashion:
The Netherlands were able to complete the first half at a 0-0 draw with Mexico despite dealing with an offensive onslaught throughout most of the first 45 minutes.
Well, early in the second half, the Dutch finally caved and gave up the first goal of the match on this brilliant strike by Giovani dos Santos in the 48th minute:
Mexico continued nursing their one-goal lead, as the Netherlands found their offense, attacking Guillermo Ochoa relentlessly. Although, it was Ochoa who flourished throughout the majority of the second half.
The Mexicans looked poised to take the win, heading into the 88th minute with a one-goal lead. However, a lapse on the defensive end quickly saw the tides of the game turn. Wesley Sneijder was in the right place to net the equalizer:
Now it appeared we would see a match enter extra time in two of the first three matches of the knockout stages.
Again, that changed quickly.
A clash between Rafael Marquez and Robin van Persie led to a penalty kick for the Netherlands in the 94th minute. The Dutch elected Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to take the shot. Here's a look at his strike:
That would complete the Netherlands' improbable comeback and propel them into the quarterfinals with a 2-1 win. For Mexico, this disappointing loss marks the team's sixth consecutive departure from the World Cup in the round of 16.
There was no drama lost in the second match of the day, as Costa Rica and Greece played for the right to meet the Dutch in the quarterfinals.
Greece entered the game coming off a wild victory to advance through the group stage; however, the country's recent World Cup history didn't bode well against Costa Rica, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
Early defensive prowess was shown on both sides of the pitch, as Greece seemed to have a defensive mentality while Costa Rica had only allowed one goal through the group stage.
Midway through the first half, ESPN FC tweeted what we were all thinking:
Possibly the save of the match happened late in the first half. Keylor Navas denied the Greeks with this brilliant leg save, courtesy of Bleacher Report UK:
The contest entered the half at a 0-0 draw.
Well, the draw didn't last long, as a mental lapse by Greece's defense left Bryan Ruiz wide open for the first goal of the match in the 52nd minute. Here's a look courtesy of World Cup Vines:
All Costa Rica had to do was hold on.
Although, in the 66th minute, Oscar Duarte made that a bit tougher for his team, taking a red card after this unnecessary tackle, courtesy of Bleacher Report UK:
Down to 10 men, Costa Rica was forced to hang on to its lead over the final 23 minutes of the match.
The team hung on nicely for that span; however, in extra time, Greece struck.
Hanging around in Costa Rica's end of the pitch, the Greeks took advantage of rebound, as Sokratis Papastathopoulos netted the equalizer in the 91st minute:
As improbable as it seemed, Greece did it again.
So, what came next? Fox Soccer summed it up:
The first period of extra time went by without a score, as each team stuck to a rather defensive style of play. That's not to say there weren't some nice opportunities for either side, but sound defense paved the way for yet another 15-minute period.
We saw more of the same through the second period of extra time. Down to 10 men, Costa Rica remained on the defensive, and successfully made it through. Although, it wasn't without a scary moment, as Greece almost took the match in the 121st minute.
So, we headed to penalty kicks.
With the first three kicks from each team finding their marks, Theofanis Gekas stepped up for Greece but was denied by Keylor Navas. Here's a look at the fantastic save, courtesy of Footy Vines.com:
Shortly after, Michael Umana put through Costa Rica's winning goal, sending his team through to face the Dutch in the quarterfinals. The Greeks put forth a valiant effort, but it just wasn't enough this time around.