The World Cup knockout round began this weekend, with Brazil, the Netherlands, Colombia, and Costa Rica all moving on to the quarterfinals. Here are some of the must-see top plays from the matches!
5. Time to celebrate
Klaas Jan Huntelaar of the Netherlands scored the game-winner off a free kick against Mexico, but this highlight has little to do with the goal. Huntelaar’s celebration, ending in a perfectly executed karate kick to the corner flag, makes the go-ahead goal look easy. Definitely don’t try this at home.
4. All tied up
Greece was fighting for its life in stoppage time of its first-ever World Cup knockout match. Trailing 1-0 in the 90th minute, a rebound found the foot of defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who was able to blast a shot past Costa Rican keeper Keylor Navas for the equalizer.
3. A game of inches
Neymar may have sealed the win for Brazil in penalty kicks against Chile on Saturday, but arguably the most important shot of the game never found the back of the net. In the final seconds of extra time, Chile’s Mauricio Pinilla put a brilliant strike on goal that looked like a certain heartbreaker for the host team and its fans. But the shot hit off the crossbar and was cleared by Brazil, leaving Chilean fans with a sinking feeling in their stomachs instead. Extra time ended in a draw, setting the stage for Neymar’s heroics in penalty kicks.
2. How does he do it?
The quarterfinals curse hanging over Mexico still stands. Even Guillermo Ochoa, who was a magician in net all tournament and continued his dominance on Sunday, could not protect El Tri against the Netherlands. Mexico pulled ahead early on a goal by Giovani dos Santos, but two late strikes by the Netherlands were too much to overcome. Despite Mexico’s sixth straight exit in the first game of the knockout round, it was Ochoa who made the play of the game with this incredible save in the 57th minute to keep Mexico ahead. Watch as Stefan de Vrij of the Netherlands reacts with utter disbelief after Ochoa somehow gets his hands on a rocket of a shot right in front of the net.
1. Helping hand
Costa Rica narrowly escaped being upset by Greece, and Navas played an integral role. Watch as he blocks a penalty kick by Greece’s Theofanis Gekas, allowing Costa Rica to win the shootout 5-3. Navas guesses right on the shot, but it sails over his head. He is still able to get a hand on the ball, though, sending Greece home in improbable fashion after a historic World Cup run.
What was your top moment from the first four games of the Round of 16? Let us know in the comments section below!
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Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images