Huntelaar 90'+ (pen)
dos Santos 48'
RED: Duarte 66' (2xY)
The Dutch were surprisingly lifeless through much of the first hour of play, while Mexico showed more energy. Finally, the stalemate was broken just after the half when Giovani dos Santos took a bad ball off Ron Vlaar and danced around him before firing a rocket into the lower right corner from over 20 yards out. The Dutch finally started to mount an offense after that -- while at the same time, Mexico pulled back into a shell and hardly threatened again for the duration. I'm pretty sure you can guess what happened just from that sentence. Guillermo Ochoa made a few fantastic saves over the next forty minutes, but just two minutes before stoppage time the Dutch won a corner off one of those saves. Arjen Robben crossed into the box and Klass Jan Huntelaar knocked the ball down for Wesley Sneijder, who fired a bullet past an utterly defenseless Ochoa to equalize. Everyone started preparing for a second extra-time contest in as many games, but with just a minute left in stoppage time Rafael Marquez tripped Robben in the box. Penalty awarded, and Huntelaar buried it before dashing to the corner to ceremonially murder the corner flag with a perfectly executed leaping kick. Heartbreak for Mexico, who have now still never advanced to the quarterfinals without home field advantage.
The Ticos were nowhere near as sharp as they'd been in the group stages during the first half, and Greece was, well, Greece. The result was a desultory half with few chances. About eight minutes into the second, Celso Borges got hold of a bad pass, and then a couple of touches later Christian Bolaños took advantage of another defensive gaffe to move toward the corner. Bolaños passed to David Ruiz at the top of the penalty area, and Ruiz one-timed it past Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who was screening goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis. Even though the shot was actually a slow roller, Karnezis was frozen due to the screen and never even moved; Costa Rica had the lead. The Ticos very nearly had a perfect chance to double it just a minute later when Vasilis Torosidis cleared a ball out of danger; the referee apparently thought he'd either headed it or taken it off his shoulder, but replay showed it was clearly hand ball, off the upper arm. The proper call would have been a penalty kick, so the Greeks were fortunate.
In the 66th minute, things drastically changed when Óscar Duarte picked up his second yellow and was sent off. At 70' the Greeks had a chance they'll regret, as Giorgios Samaras fired a shot from the front left corner of the penalty area and Navas didn't collect his save; luckily, the Ticos cleared it just before Greece had a chance at an open net. But just as stoppage time commenced, Theofanis Gekas fired a shot right in front of goal which Navas desperately batted away, and Sokratis redeemed himself for his earlier error by smashing the equalizer home. Two minutes later, Navas made a brilliant punch save over the bar off a Kostas Mitroglou shoulder-shot. He came down hard, requiring attention from the trainers.
In extra time, Greece had plenty of chances and just couldn't get it done; the most galling was a 5-on-2 break following a Costa Rica corner with only seven minutes left in extra time. For the Ticos part, Joel Campbell made what can only be described as a heroic effort essentially running the entire Costa Rica offense all by himself; even at that the ten-man side very nearly took the lead on a couple of occasions. But extra time passed with the nets unmolested, and for the second time in two days penalties would decide a place in the quarterfinals. Both squads slotted their first three kicks, and Costa Rica went up 4-3 when the dead-on-his feet Campbell simply rolled his shot in. Navas then saved against Theo Gekas, and Michael Umaña stepped to the spot... and ended the game with one blast.
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France vs Nigeria
Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha
Germany vs Algeria
Game 53: France-Nigeria
This will be the first competitive meeting between the two squads, and their only previous meeting in a friendly was in 2009 in Saint-Etienne... won 1-0 by Nigeria, surprisingly. The French lineup is, also surprisingly, somewhat up in the air. Mamadou Sakho appears to be ruled out due to injury, with Eliaquim Mangala set to fill in. For Nigeria, Michael Babatunde is probably out for the duration after an arm injury; Victor Moses could replace him, but he's been suffering fitness concerns the entire tournament, so Michael Uchebo could get the nod. The question in this match appears to be whether France's developed attacks can outplay Nigeria's counters, and while France has been killing it the last ten days this match may be closer than you'd expect. It's Jack Sargeant again with SB Nation's match preview.
Game 54: Germany-Algeria
If France having lost their only prior meeting with Nigeria surprises you, this will really get you: Algeria is 2-0 against Die Mannschaft, including the 1982 World Cup victory which preceded the most cynical match arrangement in World Cup history: the notorious 1-0 West German win over Austria. Lukas Podolski is out for the Germans; Mario Götze will probably return to the lineup to replace him. Otherwise, the lineup should be the same eleven which defeated the Americans last week. The Desert Foxes could also trot out the same lineup which faced Russia, though Madjid Bougherra may return to the back line to supplant Essaïd Belkalem. Yacine Brahimi might also start on the bench if Vahid Halilhodžic opts to switch to a 4-3-3 for defensive purposes. Germany hasn't disappointed in this tournament, but Algeria's been spicy, and they have an old grudge. The problem is that Algeria may simply not have the defense to handle Germany's brutal attack. SB Nation's Match preview again comes courtesy of the tireless Jack Sargeant.
So far, the Round of 16 has been absolutely enthralling; even an awful game like Costa Rica-Greece had everyone on the edge of their seats. Today would appear to be less prone to such theatrics, but this is the 2014 World Cup and we shouldn't take anything for granted. Join us here, in your open thread, for all the fun.