ARGENTINA 0 NETHERLANDS 0
(aet Argentina win 4-2 on penalties)
The Dutchman may regret deciding against bringing on Tim Krul, who saved two penalties against Costa Rica in the previous round, as Jasper Cillessen was easily beaten from 12 yards.
After a mad opening half an hour in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday, both teams started cautiously on a cold night.
Messi drilled a low free-kick right at Cillessen and Ezequiel Garay headed just over for Argentina, but nothing else of note happened in the first period.
After the break, Argentina briefly upped the tempo. Vlaar blocked Messi as he advanced towards goal and substitute Daryl Janmaat denied Gonzalo Higuain.
Nigel de Jong, a surprise starter, was struggling to keep up with the game and he came off for Jordy Klasie with 28 minutes left.
Lucas Biglia and Janmaat both needed treatment after sliding into each other in a nasty challenge that made Argentina coach Sabella wince on the touchline.
There was no inkling of a goal until the final minute of normal time when Enzo Perez dashed down the right and delivered a pinpoint low cross to Higuain, who turned the ball inches wide.
The Argentina fans who saw the net ripple thought they had finally seen a goal, but the referee awarded a goal-kick.
That proved to be Higuain’s last contribution as he was replaced by Sergio Aguero. Sabella also threw on Rodrigo Palacio to boost his attack.
Sneijder glanced a diagonal pass into the path of Robben, but luckily for Argentina, Mascherano came to the rescue and the game went to extra-time.
In the 98th minute Holland mustered their first shot on target, an effort from Robben that flew into Romero’s hands.
Cillessen jangled the nerves of the Holland fans when he performed an audacious turn to wriggle away from the advancing Aguero at the start of the second half of extra-time.
Sabella was incensed with Palacio when he tried - and failed - to head over Cillessen from 10 yards in the dying minutes of extra-time.
Dirk Kuyt fluffed a good chance at the other end and the match went to penalties.
Romero saved straight away from Vlaar. Messi, Garay and Aguero found the net while Romero saved to his right from Sneijder.
Dirk Kuyt slotted Holland’s fourth penalty away, but Maxi Rodriguez then beat Cillessen to send Argentina through.