outstanding Mascherano shines with midfield masterclass
In the end even master tactician Louis Van Gaal could not stop pre-tournament favourites Argentina reaching the final. It was heartbreak for Holland in a penalty shoot out. And joy for the South Americans, who for once did not rely on Lionel Messi to get them through.
This was a team effort by Argentina. Goalkeeper Sergio Romero was the hero in the penalty shoot out and man-of-the-match Javier Mascherano was outstanding in driving his team forward. Barcelona’s defensive midfielder produced one of the performances of the tournament.
The return of Nigel de Jong, and Robin van Persie passed fit to play was a pre-match boost for the Dutch. And unlike the previous night’s semi-final this was a real contest. A remarkable last ditch tackle from Masherano denied Arjen Robben in the last minute of normal time. And it remained goal-less in extra time too.
The Dutch had the lion’s share of possession. But Argentina had more shots and more on target. This was a match that always looked like it was heading for penalties.
In the nerve jangling penalty shoot out Romero was the hero saving two of Holland’s first three penalties. The Dutch keeper Jasper Cillesson has never saved a spot kick and when he couldn’t stop Maxi Rodriguez making it 4-2 Argentina were through.
In the final, Germany will be strongly fancied after that 7-1 win in the semi-final. But we still haven’t seen the best of Argentina.