Van Gaal Struggled To Find First Penalty Taker

The Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal says two of his players stood down from the responsibility of taking the first penalty kick during Wednesday’s shootout defeat by Argentina.

Two-time Fifa World Cup losing-finalists, Holland, lost 4-2 on penalties to the South Americans after extra-time ended in stalemate.

Having eventually settled on defender Ron Vlaar after two players rejected the weighted task, the Aston Villa skipper’s effort was well kept out by goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

The Netherland's Defender Ron Vlaar After Missing His Country's First Penalty Against Argentina.
The Netherland’s Defender Ron Vlaar After Missing His Country’s First Penalty Against Argentina.

“The issue is you score the first one and I asked two players to take the first ball before ending up with Vlaar,” said Van Gaal at a post-match press briefing.

Holland had progressed to the semi-final after a previous shootout victory against Costa Rica, but saw their ‘Dutch courage’ drop against the two-time champions.

Vlaar’s penalty was one of the two saves made by Argentina goalkeeper Romero, whose side out-rightly converted four to their opponents’ two.

Van Gaal said: “It (the first kick) should give you confidence. We took those penalties in an incredible way against Costa Rica.

“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 is the most terrible scenario, to lose on penalties at the very least we were equal with them, if not the better team. It’s a big tournament.”

Vlaar, who stood strong in Holland’s central defence for the whole of 120 minutes, said he would not let the loss discourage him, especially with Saturday’s third-place match against hosts Brazil just by the corner.

“It’s sport, and it’s tough,” Vlaar said. “But I’m a man and I’m not going to whinge about it.

“Of course I know tha I played well, but positive feelings pass to one side now that I’ve missed my penalty.

“We’re going home empty-handed. It’s sad, because the only thing that counts is the title. There’s still the third-place match. But it’s not the same thing.”

Dutch playmaker Wesley Schneider, who should have help restore confidence with the forth kick, was disappointed for failing to convert from 12 yards.

“I missed my penalty,” said the Galatasaray man. “It’s a shame. But it’s particularly frustrating not to have capitalised on the chances we created over the 120 minutes.