Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal revealed that the plan to bring on substitute keeper Tim Krul for a penalty shoot-out had been hatched with the Newcastle player beforehand — but first-choice keeper Jasper Cillessen was not informed.
Krul came on a minute before the end of extra-time and then saved two Costa Rican penalties as the Dutch won the shoot-out 4-3 after full-time and extra-time had finished goalless.
Krul saved from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana to send the Dutch into a semi-final with Argentina in Sao Paulo on Wednesday.
“We said nothing to Jasper. We didn’t want him before the match to be faced with this information because this would have been disappointing,” the coach said.
“Every keeper has specific qualities but Tim has a longer reach and a better track record of stopping penalties. We did discuss this with Tim Krul and also the sequence of penalties. Fortunately it worked out. If it hadn’t, it would have been my mistake.” Krul said he knew there was a chance he would come on with penalties looming.
“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 said it was Cillessen who had kept the Dutch alive after the Ajax keeper saved from Marco Urena with three minutes of extra-time to go.
“I don’t know how much ball possession and how many opportunities we had but it just goes to show that a goal is the most important thing,” he said.
“This was exciting, thrilling. In the 117th minute Costa Rica got their first chance of the match and Cillessen has stopped that, but it could just as well not have happened and we would not have moved on. So that is football for you, and the life of a coach.” Van Gaal had gambled with the substitutions and in extra-time kept the Krul option waiting as he sent on striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar for defender Bruno Martins Indi with 15 minutes of extra-time remaining.
“It was a bit tricky ... that was a risk. It was touch and go but with hindsight a big success,” he said.
Jorge Luis Pinto, the Costa Rica manager, said his players could be proud after leaving the tournament undefeated in regular and extra-time.
“We’re hurt but we feel happy. We have not been beaten even if we leave the tournament now,” he said.
“We had good tactics and were never afraid to play the powerhouses.
Of course we are hurt because penalties are very tough. We tried to play football and presented a positive and dignified image of our country.
“The Netherlands are not an easy team. They have players who have played Euros, World Cups and are in important leagues.
“We fought from the beginning. We were well organised in defence. I think we have shown we can offer a good show, offer beautiful football. We can play well sometimes, we defended well and showed high quality.”