Netherlands vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Louis van Gaal reveals he chose Ron Vlaar for first penalty because two other players said no
Vlaar saw his effort saved by goalkeeper Sergio Romero as Argentina progressed to the World Cup final
Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal came under criticism for selecting defender Ron Vlaar for their first penalty in the semi-final shootout defeat to Argentina, but the head coach has revealed that two other players refused to take the first spot kick.
Having come through a penalty shootout in the quarter-final after Costa Rica pushed them all the way, but Wednesday’s encounter came a step too far for the Dutch as first Vlaar and then Wesley Sneijder saw their efforts saved by Sergio Romero.
With the Argentinians scoring all of their four attempts, they booked their place in the final on Sunday where they’ll meet Germany, while the Netherlands must suffer the pain that is competing in the third-place play-off against demoralised Brazil.
Speaking after the defeat, Val Gaal revealed that Vlaar would not have gone first had two other unnamed players stepped up and taken responsibility.
“You need to score the first one and I asked two players to take the first ball before ending up with Vlaar,” said Van Gaal.
“I thought he was the best player on the pitch so should have a lot of confidence. It just goes to show it's not easy scoring in a penalty shoot-out.
“It's a very humiliating question to be asked who the players were.”
He also went on to admit the “hurt” he was feeling over seeing Romero save the penalties, given the pair worked together during their time at AZ Alkmaar.
Vlaar was excellent in the 120 minutes but had his penalty attempt saved “We didn't lose against them, but the penalties are down to luck,” added Van Gaal.
“I taught Romero how to stop penalties, so that hurts.”
Read more: Netherlands 0 Argentina 0 match report
The world reacts to Romero's 'Hands of God'
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Van Gaal will face the same task as Luis Felipe Scolari faces in picking up his squad mentally to compete in Saturday’s third-place play-off, with both teams being forced to compete with the knowledge that their World Cup hopes are over.
They head into the game though with a stark contrast in fortunes to the Brazilians, given that they went out narrowly in a tense penalty shootout while the hosts were demolished by Germany in the crushing 7-1 defeat on Tuesday.
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