The Netherlands lost a penalty shootout 4-2 to Argentina in Wednesday's 2014 World Cup semi-final, after 120 scoreless minutes.
Both teams struggled to get much going offensively and were happy to decide the affair on penalties, but the Dutch missed two of their four spot-kicks and were knocked out of the tournament in the process.
Robin van Persie took the first penalty during the team's quarter-final win over Costa Rica, but he was substituted before it ever got that far against Argentina. The striker came into the match suffering from illness, but per Sky Sports News, he did get the start:
The Team News is in - Van Persie starts for Netherlands against Argentina. Full details now #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) July 9, 2014
As shared by ESPN Stats & Info, the Manchester United forward's track record at this stage of the tournament was less than stellar:
Both he and Arjen Robben were nearly invisible in the first half, as the Albiceleste did an excellent job marking them out of the match. Jan Aage Fjortoft shared their respective stat lines:
- Robben 6 touches - Van Persie 11 touches Can't be Van Gaal's Plan A... But always got a Plan B #ARGvsNED— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) July 9, 2014
Radio host Dave Zirin just had to make a joke:
Van Persie looks like someone whose idea of fun is sweeping Daniel-San's leg.— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) July 9, 2014
The Score's Richard Whittall did the same, noticing how Van Persie kept straying offside:
Van Persie has a rare bowel disorder which prevents him from understanding the offside rule.— Richard Whittall (@RWhittall) July 9, 2014
His night was over after 95 minutes, and Yahoo Singapore thought his anonymous showing was perhaps related to the effects of the illness:
Robben's performance was little better, though the winger-turned-striker was more active out wide than his attacking partner.
As shared by Sky Sports Football, Argentina knew full well who the danger man was, and they did everything they could to stop him:
Dutch Football noticed Robben tried to get involved by drifting out wide, but the tactic was unsuccessful:
Robben drifting onto the wing to look for the ball. Not working so far. #NED— Dutch Football (@football_oranje) July 9, 2014
Squawka couldn't believe the lack of production they were seeing from the Bayern Munich man, who was closed down immediately every time he received the ball:
The Daily Mirror's Oliver Holt had the same idea:
Does taking a throw-in count as a touch? Robben may be up to 5— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) July 9, 2014
Robben was also regularly fouled by the Argentine defence, and naturally social media had to mention his tendency for diving. However, he failed to go down on a clear full early in extra time and wasn't rewarded with a foul, prompting pundits to point out this is why players dive.
Grantland's Bill Barnwell had to give his take:
One day we will appreciate how every which way Arjen Robben throws himself to the ground tells a different story.— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) July 9, 2014
Robben slotted his penalty home, but it was after Ron Vlaar had already missed, and it wouldn't be enough to see his team through.
The Netherlands didn't do enough to warrant a win over Argentina, but they also kept Lionel Messi and company in check defensively, a rare feat. The loss will sting, but a semi-final berth is still impressive for this young and inexperienced squad.
The Dutch will play hosts Brazil in the third-place play-off match, in what could be the most depressing match of the tournament. Both teams will be hugely disappointed in the manner of their semi-final losses, with the Dutch coming so close to the final and Brazil conceding seven goals against Germany in a crushing blowout in front of their home fans.
Unlike the Selecao, however, the Netherlands can enter that match with their heads held high, and with the Brazilian team still in a state of shock, the European squad should be slight favourites to win their third-place matchup.