The referees whistle in extra time proved to be the difference between Mexico and the Netherlands today in the knockout stage of the World Cup. Mexico led the match into the 88th minute before yielding the equalizer to Wesley Sneijder on a slickly executed corner kick.
The Netherlands scored twice in the closing minutes to win the match 2-1.
Mexico had their hearts ripped out for the sixth straight time in the round of 16. Their players and fans will chew on this loss for a long time. The staggering defeat left much of the team lingering around the field afterwards.
The difference in the match proved to be a penalty drawn by Dutchman Arjen Robben in extra time. Robben thought he was fouled near the end of the first half and relentlessly haggled the official for a call the remainder of the match. He got his wish at the perfect time.
The call was questionable, even though it drew a yellow card. Mexican captain Rafa Marquez appeared to make a play on the ball near the end line but made contact with Robben who subsequently flopped to the ground. A penalty shot was awarded and then banged home by Klaas Jan Huntelaar of the Netherlands.
The Netherlands advances to face the winner of Costa Rica and Greece next Saturday.
Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa kept El Tri in the lead much of the second half with spectacular saves from point blank range. Mexico grabbed the first half lead in minute 48 when Giovani dos Santos banged home a left footed shot from 25 yards out.
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera kept up with his internet celebrating, running up and down the length of the bench in exultation when his side grabbed the early lead.
Despite holding the lead for much of the match and generally outplaying the Dutch, Mexico exits another World Cup in disappointment.
Scorching temperatures caused a cooling break late in the second half as the Netherlands desperately searched for the equalizer. FIFA ruled that stoppages would be instituted should temperatures reach 32 degrees celsius in Brazil. It happened in both halves, near the 30 and 75 minute mark. Players took the opportunity to hydrate while coaches instituted strategy sessions.
The Netherlands has been the highest scoring team in the tournament so far and needed every minute to comeback from the jaws of defeat against Mexico. The Dutch will face Costa Rica in the quarterfinals next week.