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World Cup penalty kings Costa Rica to put Holland on the spot

| 30.06.2014

Holland got themselves out of jail against Mexico with Wesley Sneijder waking from his tournament-long slumber to smash home a late leveller before Robben robbed El Tri of extra time redemption – but don’t count on a similar breakout against Costa Rica.

Los Ticos were good value for their penalty kick victory over Greece, playing over an hour of football against their European opponents with just 10 men following Oscar Duarte’s sending off.

And though they were guilty of conceding a 91st minute equaliser to the Ethniki, the reality is that Costa Rica should have been safe at that stage, with a blatant Greece handball in the box going unpunished earlier.

Fortunately in Keylor Navas they have one of the best goalkeepers at the World Cup – a player ranked as the second most effective keeper in La Liga last term, behind only Thibaut Courtois.

Costa Rica’s success up until this point has been built on a mean defence, with just two goals conceded in their four games played, both in questionable circumstances.

While they were down to 10 men against Greece, the goal shipped in their opening 3-1 win over Uruguay came courtesy of a dubious penalty.

It all suggests that their quarter-final meeting with Holland may not be the done deal everyone has suggested, with Costa Rica capable of holding their own, as the games against Uruguay, Italy and England demonstrated.

The Dutch are not the all-conquering force many expected them to be after that 5-1 win over Spain either, coming from behind to pick up a fortunate 3-2 win over minnows Australia before scoring twice in the last two minutes against Chile in a game dominated by the South Americans.

Mexico were heading for extra time against the Oranje prior to Arjen Robben’s late theatrics but if Costa Rica can avoid a similar fate then they could be favoured for victory should the game head into the 30 minute period.

Ladbrokes is currently offering 14/1 on Costa Rica beating the Dutch on penalties and, should the game go the distance, it’s worth considering.

Holland have won just one of the last five tournament shootouts they have been involved in – a record that puts them second to England as the worst European nation from the spot.

And after seeing Costa Rica dispatch five perfect penalties, having played for spot kicks against the Greeks after the late equaliser, the Central Americans must be fancied.

Win against the Orange and all of the sudden the 12/1 offered on the Ticos making the final tempts.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.