On Friday, Brazil and Germany became the first two teams to reach the 2014 World Cup semifinals.
With just two spots remaining heading into Saturday's action, Argentina squared off against Belgium, and the Netherlands took on Costa Rica in what figured to be two epic clashes of world football juggernauts.
So which of these teams would move forward for a chance to earn a trip to the coveted final?
Let's take a look at the final scores from Day 24 of this year's World Cup as they happen and provide some analysis for each completed match.
Day 24 Scores
|World Cup Day 24 Results|
|Team 1||Score||Team 2|
|Netherlands||0-0 (4-3)||Costa Rica|
Argentina 1-0 Belgium
Heading into this match, it looked like it would be a battle between Argentina's forwards, led by Lionel Messi, and Belgium's stout defense.
Well, the advantage went to Argentina rather quickly.
Early goals have been the story of the quarterfinals so far, and this game was no different. In just the eighth minute, Gonzalo Higuain drilled a brilliant strike into the corner, which goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had little chance to save.
Here's a look at his strike, courtesy of Betfuze:
Higuain was freed up nicely for that strike due to Messi attracting plenty of attention from Belgium's defenders.
Perhaps the writing was now on the wall for Belgium. After all, Paul Carr of ESPN tweeted this very telling statistic:
Belgium's best chance of keeping pace was to get Divock Origi involved; however, he had so few touches during the first half, which forced him to travel well back on the pitch in an attempt to get involved.
Here's a look at the locations of his touches, courtesy of Squawka Football:
The half came to a close with Argentina holding onto a 1-0 lead.
Early in the second half, Argentina continued to attack. The team's aggression was almost instantly rewarded with another great break and strike from Higuain.
This time, he just barely missed his mark. Here's a look at the shot, via World Cup 2014:
Deeper into the second half, Belgium just looked as though it began to miss some depth. The team seemed fatigued and was having difficulty keeping up with the pace set by the Argentinians.
The time ticked away, and Belgium was unable to net the equalizer.
Argentina's 1-0 victory gave the team its first semifinal appearance in quite some time, according to a tweet from ESPN:
Now, Messi and Co. must wait for the late match to conclude before their semifinal opponent is realized.
Netherlands 0-0 (4-3) Costa Rica
This match appeared to be a battle of the Netherlands' great strikers against Costa Rica's stellar goalkeeper Keylor Navas. After all, Costa Rica entered the match allowing just two goals in the World Cup, while the Dutch have accumulated 12.
Early in the match, the Dutch maintained possession as they tried to find a way through Costa Rica's stout defense. Here's a look at the Netherlands' passing chart, courtesy of Squawka Football:
Soon after, Robin Van Persie broke through for the first time.
He was faced with a tough angle, but Navas increased its difficulty, closing the gap to make the save. Take a glance, courtesy of World Soccer Talk:
Navas' prowess in goal didn't stop there, as he made anther great save, this time against Memphis Depay:
The Netherlands continued to dominate over the waning minutes of the first half but continued to be denied by Navas and Co.
The match entered halftime at a 0-0 stalemate.
Continuing the same trend in the second half, the Dutch applied more pressure on Costa Rica's defense. Due to the dominance of possession to this point, the Costa Rican defense must be commended for hanging in there.
Although, it wasn't without more scares.
Wesley Sneijder came incredibly close to scoring the game's first goal off a free kick. Here's a look at his strike that just glanced off the post, courtesy of Bleacher Report UK:
Late in the half, time simply ticked away, as Costa Rica protected the draw and the Netherlands continued to pound away at goal.
One flurry of Dutch shots looked to possibly end the game; however, they were denied once more. Take a look at the chaotic incident:
That would bring us to extra time.
As expected, things didn't really change. The Netherlands kept up the aggression, forcing Navas into even more brilliant saves and holding a great majority of the possession.
Meanwhile, Costa Rica almost appeared happy to stay back and defend in hopes of forcing the match to see penalty kicks. After all, the Dutch sure wouldn't want to face Navas in that scenario given his remarkable effort on the day.
The teams entered the second half of extra time still trying to work out of a 0-0 draw. This game may have been scoreless to this point, but it wasn't without some brilliant play and captivating intensity.
Just when it looked as though the Dutch would come away with a goal once more, Sneijder found the crossbar for the second time in the match:
So, how could this match possibly get any more intense? You guessed it—we headed to penalty kicks.
Tim Krul was brought in to contend the penalty kicks for the Dutch, and it turned out to be a magnificent move.
The tall, lengthy goalkeeper made a fantastic save against Bryan Ruiz to go up 2-1. After some flawless kicks from both sides, the Dutch took a 4-3 lead, forcing Costa Rica to make its next shot to stay alive.
It wasn't to be, as Krul came up huge once more, winning the match and sending the Netherlands through to face Argentina in the semifinals.
Costa Rica put up a valiant effort and should be proud of a remarkable run. For the Dutch, it's time to regroup, as they will face Messi and Co. on Wednesday.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!