Holland completed an amazing comeback from 1-0 down at the 87th to eliminate Mexico 2-1 in Fortaleza.

Holland completed an amazing comeback from 1-0 down at the 87th to eliminate Mexico 2-1 in Fortaleza.

Robin Van Persie returned from suspension and Georginio Wijnaldum stepped in. Paul Verghaegh was a surprise pick, getting his first start of the tournament. Mexico replaced the banned Jose Juan Vazquez with Carlos Salcido in midfield.

Holland had a 100 per cent record, including a 5-1 victory over Spain, but El Tri only missed out on winning Group A due to goal difference with Brazil.

Wesley Sneijder set a new Dutch record with his 15th World Cup appearance. There were concerns over the heat at 13.00 local time in Fortaleza, so FIFA gave the all-clear for cooling breaks.

There was immediately bad news for Nigel De Jong, as the Milan midfielder lasted only nine minutes before being replaced by Bruno Martins Indi, who in turn was still recovering from concussion.

Mexico had by far the brighter start Hector Herrera’s scuffed shot finished a team move by skimming the base of the near post.

Herrera had penalty appeals for a very high Ron Vlaar foot to stop him getting his head to the loose ball, then Jasper Cillessen’s gloves were stung by a long-range Salcido strike.

The tempo was slow in the searing heat and a three-minute cooling break occurred at the half-hour, in which players received water and cold towels.

Giovani Dos Santos forced a save from Cillessen at a tight angle after running on to Andres Guardado’s flick.

In first half stoppages, Mexico lost the ball in midfield and Arjen Robben ran on to a Van Persie pass, but was sandwiched between Rafael Marquez and Hector Moreno. This too had more than a few suspicions of a penalty. Moreno injured himself in that move and was stretchered off in agony.

Mexico took the lead straight after the restart with Giovani Dos Santos, who let the ball bounce from 20 metres and unleashed a left-foot strike across Cillessen into the far bottom corner.

Cillessen plucked another long-range Oribe Peralta effort out of the air, but Guillermo Ochoa was back to his heroics with a stunning save from point-blank range on Stefan De Vrij, turning it on to the inside of the post.

Sneijder’s shot was deflected wide and Robben had more penalty appeals, but this time appeared to tread on the Mexican boot. Robben stayed on his feet after a powerful run, only to be denied by Ochoa’s legs at the near stick.

There was another cooling break on 75 minutes and Louis Van Gaal surprised by substituting Van Persie with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Ochoa performed another extraordinary reaction save on Huntelaar, but it was offside anyway.

Holland snatched a very late equaliser with a well-worked training ground move. Huntelaar knocked down a corner to the edge of the box for Sneijder’s unstoppable missile that even Ochoa couldn’t keep out of the near bottom corner.

Just as extra time seemed inevitable, Marquez stuck out a foot on Robben at the by-line for a penalty, although the Bayern Munich man certainly tried to make the most of the contact with a theatrical dive. Substitute Huntelaar stepped up and converted by sending Ochoa the wrong way deep into stoppages.

Mexico thought their curse was over, but for the sixth World Cup in a row went out in the Round of 16.

Netherlands 2-1 Mexico

Scorers: Dos Santos 48 (M), Sneijder 87 (N), Huntelaar pen 94 (N)

Netherlands: Cillessen; Verghaegh (Depay 56), De Vrij, Vlaar; Kuyt, Wijnaldum, De Jong (Martins Indi 9), Blind; Sneijder; Van Persie (Huntelaar 76), Robben

Mexico: Ochoa; Rodriguez, Marquez, Moreno (Reyes 46); Aguilar, Herrera, Salcido, Guardado, Layun; Dos Santos (Aquino 61), Peralta (J Hernandez 74)

Ref: Proenca (POR)

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