Argentina clinched a place in the 2014 World Cup final to face Germany after prevailing in a penalty shootout after a disappointing game against the Netherlands.
In contrast to the wide open, raucous display that the other semi-final produced, the Argentina against Netherlands Wednesday match was an even contest and a frequently dull one as the game became increasing bogged down in a midfield battle.
The match actually started well as both sides looked to nick an early advantage, but Javier Mascherano and Nigel de Jong were both at large and did their best to prevent any real clear chances from emerging.
The first goalkeeper to be troubled was Jasper Cillessen, when Lionel Messi struck a free-kick his way, but the keeper saved comfortably.
Argentina again came close through Ezequiel Garay from a corner, but the centre-back headed over.
Louis van Gaal shuffled his pack after half-time by bringing on Daryl Janmaat and moving Dirk Kuyt further forward, but the two teams remained deadlocked as a lack of attacking adventure and some fine defending from both sides resulted in a tense affair with few real chances.
Argentina had the biggest chance up until then when Gonzalo Higuain profited from Enzo Perez’s excellent cross to the far post, but the Napoli forward prodded the ball into the side-netting to spurn his team’s best chance of going through.
Extra-time looked certain, but the biggest chance of the game came just on the turn of injury-time as Sneijder put Arjen Robben clean through on goal, but a combination of a heavy touch and an intervention from the excellent Mascherano denied him.
Van Gaal opted to replace Robin Van Persie with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar for his third substitution, thus denying him the opportunity to use Tim Krul for the penalty shootout as he had done with Costa Rica.
Somewhat predictably, the match progressed to penalties, with Cillessen in goal this time for the Netherlands.
Ron Vlaar was the surprise candidate to take the first penalty, and a strange decision it proved as Sergio Romero kept his effort out.
Messi stepped up first for the Argentinians, and duly rolled his away.
Robben coolly dispatched the Netherlands’ second, but Garay maintained the South Americans’ advantage by smashing home their second.
The Dutch were left staring down the barrel as Sneijder’s effort was kept out with a good save from Romero, before Aguero buried his effort.
Dirk Kuyt was left needing to score, and did.
Rodriguez had the chance to put Argentina through, and duly dispatched his to send his side through to the final.