SALVADOR, BRAZIL – After one of the shortest and most sensational World Cup debuts, goalkeeper Tim Krul described his shootout heroics as “a dream come true” as the Netherlands advanced past Costa Rica 4-3 on penalties on Saturday to book a semifinal appointment with Argentina.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal took a major gamble and sent on Krul for first-choice keeper Jasper Cillessen at the end of extra time following a 0-0 stalemate with the Central Americans in the quarterfinal clash at Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova.
But the move paid rich dividends as Newcastle United keeper Krul stopped penalties from Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana to send his team into the last four.
“I knew before the game that the possibility was there. The manager said that if we had one more substitution then he would consider putting me in goal,” said Krul.
“It happened and it’s a dream come true for me. We have watched all the penalties and been preparing with the goalkeepers. The chance was there for me that he (van Gaal) was going to choose me and he did with one minute to go and for this to happen in the quarterfinal of a World Cup is a dream come true.”
“Now we are in the semifinal against Argentina, a great, massive game and hopefully we can get through to the final, said Krul, adding “of course,” when asked if it was the best moment of his career.
The 26-year-old acknowledged it must have been hard for Cillessen to swallow being taken off and that he expected his rival to start against the Argentines, 1-0 winners over Belgium, in the semifinal in Sao Paolo on Wednesday.
But he said, “We had a plan and today to make the plan come true is incredible. It is difficult (for Cillessen) but he made a fantastic save one minute before the end so he needs to realize that if that had gone in we would have been be eliminated.
“We are a team and we showed that again today that we need every single player in this team to go to the end.”
Van Gaal, who will take over the Manchester United managerial hot seat after the World Cup, said the substitution was planned but admitted Cillessen had not been told in advance.
“We thought this through beforehand,” van Gaal said. “We felt, all of us, that Tim Krul would be the most appropriate keeper to stop penalties.
“He has a long reach and we prepared for Costa Rica penalties. You will have seen that Tim dove to the right corner time and time again so all of us are a tiny bit proud that this trick has helped us through.
“The coach decides who is going to be the substitutes and we said nothing to Jasper before the match because that would have been disappointing for him.
“But every keeper has his specific qualities and we felt that Tim had a longer reach and a better track record as a ‘keeper to stop penalties than Jasper. With Tim we had discussed all this and also the sequence and the order of Costa Rica and how they would shoot their penalties because he needed to be prepared. Fortunately this worked out because if it hadn’t I would have taken the wrong decision. That’s usually the way it works.”