WORLD CUP 2014
Wesley Sneijder and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar led a late Dutch fightback to sink Mexico and reach the World Cup quarter-finals as Costa Rica advanced with a dramatic penalty shootout win over Greece.
A controversial injury time penalty won by Arjen Robben saw Holland snatch a 2-1 victory over Mexico in Forataleza before the Central American minnows defeated Greece 5-3 on penalties in Recife to reach the last eight for the first time.
Bayern Munich star Robben, who is often accused of going to ground too easily, tumbled to the turf in injury time after a tackle by Mexico's Rafael Marquez.
Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca pointed to the spot and Klaas Jan Huntelaar stepped up to bury the winning penalty.
It came just moments after Sneijder had scored an 88th-minute equaliser to cancel out Giovani dos Santos's superb goal for Mexico.
The epic finale settled a second round battle played in furnace-like conditions at Fortaleza's Castelao Stadium.
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera lashed out at referee Proenca for awarding the penalty.
"The determining factor was the man with the whistle. He put us out of the World Cup," Herrera said.
"At the very least they can look at this and this referee ought to be going home like us."
Robben insisted Proenca had been right to award the penalty, telling Dutch broadcaster NOS: "I was fouled."
But Robben did admit to a dive in an unsuccessful attempt to win a penalty earlier in the first half.
"I really have to say and at the same time apologise in the first half I took a dive and I really shouldn't do that," he said.
"That was a stupid, stupid thing to do but sometimes you're expecting to be struck and then they pull their leg away at the last minute."
Mexico have now lost in the second round in six consecutive World Cup appearances.
The match saw three-minute cooling breaks used for the first time in World Cup history as pitch-side temperatures hit 39 degrees.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal praised his team for not wilting as they chased an equaliser in punishing conditions.
"The players showed they had faith and belief until the very end," Van Gaal said.
Holland now face Costa Rica in Salvador on Sunday after the Central Americans defeated Greece.
Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas was the hero, saving Greece's fourth penalty from Fanis Gekas before Michael Umana converted the winning spot-kick for "Los Ticos".
Costa Rica had taken the lead on 52 minutes through captain Bryan Ruiz, who coolly placed his finish in the bottom corner past a static Orestis Karnezis.
Costa Rica, the surprise package of the World Cup so far after winning Group D ahead of Uruguay, Italy and England, looked to have Greece's measure.
But the dismissal of Costa Rica's Oscar Duarte for a tackle on Jose Holebas swung the game back towards the Greeks.
Costa Rica appeared to have survived the onslaught but with just seconds to go, Navas could only parry a shot from Theofanis Gekas, and Sokratis Papastathopoulos was on hand to sweep home the equaliser. AFP