SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — On the same ground where Robin van Persie's spectacular diving header earned him the nickname the Flying Dutchman, the Netherlands striker fell flat against Costa Rica on Saturday.
Van Persie missed two chances from close range in stoppage time in a 0-0 draw before the Dutch prevailed 4-3 in penalty shootout to set up a World Cup semifinal match against Argentina.
"Those misses could have been very costly," Van Persie said. "But our win is all that matters now."
One of those chances was heart stopping.
The ball was crossed from the left, two Dutch players failed to get to it, and it fell to Van Persie close to the back post. He shot, but the ball hit a Costa Rican defender on the goal line, ricocheted from the crossbar and bounced out.
"It's bizarre," Van Persie said. "We had too many chances. You have to stay strong and focused in such circumstances. We had to work hard to win this game."
While Van Persie sputtered, teammate Arjen Robben was a constant threat against a dogged Costa Rica squad as he left behind a diving controversy surrounding the Netherlands' second-round victory over Mexico.
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