Argentina beats Netherlands, moves to World Cup final

Germany's Angela Merkel will travel to Brazil for the final

Netherlands' Arjen Robben goes down under a challenge from Argentina's Martin Demichelis during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo Brazil, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Netherlands' Arjen Robben goes down under a challenge from Argentina's Martin Demichelis during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo Brazil, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

SAO PAULO (AP) — Argentina reached the World Cup final on Wednesday after beating the Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout.

Goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved penalties by Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder to give Argentina the win after the game finished 0-0 following extra time. Maxi Rodriguez put away the winning spot kick.

Argentina will play Germany in Sunday’s final at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

The Netherlands and Argentina were level at 0-0 after the first half of the second World Cup semifinal.

In stark contrast to Tuesday’s German goal spurt against Brazil, the closest either team came to breaking the deadlock Wednesday was Lionel Messi’s free kick in the 20th minute that Jasper Cillessen dived to his right to comfortably save.

The Dutch got a pre-match boost with the return of midfield enforcer Nigel de Jong after he recovered from a groin injury he sustained in the second-round victory over Mexico. Captain Robin van Persie also shook off a stomach problem to start.

Argentina was missing Angel Di Maria after the Real Madrid winger injured his thigh in the quarterfinal against Belgium.

The winner plays Germany in Sunday’s World Cup final.

Argentina's Lionel Messi, left, shoots a free-kick past the Dutch defense during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Argentina’s Lionel Messi, left, shoots a free-kick past the Dutch defense during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Lineups:

Netherlands: Jasper Cillessen; Dirk Kuyt, Ron Vlaar, Stefan de Vrij, Bruno Martins Indi, Daley Blind; Nigel de Jong, Georginio Wijnaldum, Wesley Sneijder; Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie.

Argentina: Sergio Romero; Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Ezequiel Garay, Marcos Rojo; Lucas Biglia, Javier Mascherano, Enzo Perez; Ezequiel Lavezzi, Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi.

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BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Brazilians are having a difficult time trying to fathom how it all went wrong so quickly against Germany in the World Cup semifinals. With the humiliating 7-1 loss still very raw for Brazil supporters, players struggled to find explanations for the country’s worst ever World Cup defeat.

A soccer fan with his face painted to represent Argentina's national flag, cheers as he poses for a photo outside the Maracana Stadium, June 15, 2014 (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
A soccer fan with his face painted to represent Argentina’s national flag, cheers as he poses for a photo outside the Maracana Stadium, June 15, 2014 (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

BERLIN — Germans awoke on Wednesday to discover the 7-1 demolition of Brazil in their World Cup semifinal was not a delightful dream but a scarcely believable reality. The front-page headline in the country’s biggest-selling newspaper, Bild, read simply: “7-1. No words for it!”

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