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World Cup semifinal: Argentina defeats Netherlands on penalty kicks

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The Netherlands' Cillessen is in goal for the shootout, not Krol, as in the previous match. For Argentina, it's Romero.

The rain has eased up a bit as the Dutch win the coin flip and get the advantageous first man at-bat.

Round One: Romero drives left to block Vlaar on a weak try. Messi goes high for an easy one. Argentina 1-0.

Round Two: A more seasoned Dutch shooter, Robben, nails it. Defender Ezekial Garay scorches it into the roof of the net. Argentina 2-1.

Round Three: Sneidjer aims high, but Romero is there with a mighty save. Cillessen gets close to Aguero's low ball to the left, but misses. Argentina 3-1.

Round Four: Dirk Kuyt keeps the Dutch alive with a make. Up steps Rodriguez, a substitute in the 100th minute. He salts it away for Argentina, which takes the shootout 4-2.

Extra time

Part II of OT begins with an injury to Argentine defender Pablo Zabaleta. He is treated on the field for a cut near the chin, changes into a blood-less jersey on the sideline and, with absorbent gauze in his mouth, returns to action.

Argentina generates some late chances. In the 116th minute, Palacio jitters past the defense and tries to head a bouncing ball, but gets little push on it.

Shortly thereafter, Messi makes a trademark cross from near the goal line to Rodriguez, who cannot get his foot solidly on it. The struck ball bounces once, into Cillessen's grasp.

Before the shootout arrives, the Dutch get a half-chance, but this game is heading to penalty kicks.

105th minute

As the overtime begins, many eyes are on the Dutch sideline, where goalkeeper Tim Krul, the star of the quarterfinals win, is loosening up for the possible penalty kicks tie-breaker. But he will not be called on because they use the final substitute for van Persie, who was questionable with a stomach ailment. On comes Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and starting keeper Cillessen now knows he would be the man for the shootout.

The tireless Robben is playing as if he were preserving energy. He hits a blazer that finds the midsection of Romero. Minutes later, his advancement is impeded by a turnover that involved plenty of contact, angering the Dutchman. At least he did not dive.

Argentina appears content to accept a shootout, as suggested by its defensive-oriented switch of Maxi Rodriguez for Lavezzi. Still 0-0 after the first half of OT.

90th minute

Argentina makes a pair of substitutions in the 81st minute. Sergio Aguero, who had been projected to start for the injured di Maria, and Rodrigio Palacio come on for Perez and Higuain.

Aguero can become a hero if he converts from inside the box at a sharp angle. He cannot pivot sufficiently to threaten.

Robben gets a dribbling run deep into the box at the start of stoppage time, only to be denied by Mascherano on a clinical tackle.

Regulation expires without a score. The Netherlands, in fact, just managed its first attempt on goal. It's on to overtime -- and, by all appearances, a shootout.

80th minute

The skies open after an hour of play. The rain might cut down on the exhaustion rate, though the players have largely taken care of that themselves with a cautious approach.

With 15 minutes remaining, the shots count is up to six, four by Argentina. Even Messi is out of sorts, badly hitting a free kick. An earlier corner kick probably was the worst of his illustrious career.

Janmaat and van Persie breathe some life into the Netherlands by combining for what creates a van Persie bicycle kick. It veers over the bar, and Argentina rushes down for an apparent goal that is promptly wiped off the board for offside.

65th minute

The Dutch remove Martins Indi, perhaps fearing another yellow card on the overly forceful defender. Daryl Janmaat slides in.

Predictably, the flow picks up, particularly with the Dutch as Robben finally announces his presence.

The first inviting chance for either side comes almost an hour into the game. A cross from the corner by Argentina's Ezequiel Lavezzi lands at the head of Gonzalo Higuain. His header goes directly into the ground.

De Jong, the unexpected Dutch starter in midfield because of a groin injury, comes off in favor of Jordy Clasie.

Halftime

An uneventful first half ended not only scoreless, but nearly shot-less. With plenty of firepower on both sides, Argentina registers two attempts, one more than the Netherlands. At times, the teams seem more interested in controlling the ball than doing something productive with it.

The Dutch swarm Messi whenever he is on the dribble. A foul on a high-placed elbow sends a message that he will not be given license to roam free. Late in the period, Bruno Martins Indi is issued a yellow card for tripping the Argentine.

Messi does line up for a direct free knick from a few yards outside the box, a danger area for the Dutch. But goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen swallows up the ball.

Both sides survive injury scares. Argentina midfielder gets the worse of a bumping of heads, stays down for awhile, then returns after presumably being medically cleared. The Netherlands' Wesley Sneidjer limps off the field, gets his lower leg sprayed by a freezing substance and soon resumes play.

Is Arjen Robben even here? The dynamic Dutch forward has been invisible. If he stays that way, the Netherlands is in trouble.

Pre-game

All questionable front-line players for the Netherlands for reasons of injury or illness will start. Nigel de Jong, who had all but been counted out for the balance of the tournament with a sore groin, was the biggest surprise. The presence of the physical midfielder will keep referee Cuneyt Cakir of Turkey and his whistle busy.

Forward Robin van Persie gets the call despite a stomach ailment and defender Ron Vlaar returns after hurting his knee in the quarterfinals.

Argentina was not so fortunate. An ailing thigh will keep midfielder Angel di Maria from collaborating with Lionel Messi. His fill-in is Enzo Perez.

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Brazil is still reeling from their embarrassing 7-1 loss to Germany on Tuesday, but the World Cup must go on, and it will at 1 p.m. PDT Wednesday when Argentina takes on the Netherlands in the other World Cup semifinal.

Argentina, which was a pretournament favorite, is led by Lionel Messi, who many consider to be the best soccer player in the world. He has four goals in the tournament, but hasn’t scored in the last two games, 1-0 wins over Belgium and Switzerland. Angel di Maria, who scored the winner against the Swiss, is likely to be out with a thigh injury he suffered in a quarterfinal win over Belgium and will be missed. The Netherlands is led by Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben, who each have three goals.

The winner of the game will play Germany in the World Cup final on Sunday.

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