FORTALEZA: Louis Van Gaal felt vindicated by his pre-match concern about water breaks after using the time-out to plot Holland’s remarkable escape to vctory against Mexico.
Holland were still 1-0 down with 15 minutes to go when referee Pedro Proenca ordered a drinks break in the searing heat. Wesley Sneijder levelled in the 88th minute and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar converted a winning penalty in stoppage time.
Van Gaal, who had raised the issue of water breaks in his press conferences before the game, said: “In the second drinks break I could explain plan B. That was very good.” Plan B meant switching to a strategy of long balls aimd at two central strikers in substitute Huntelaar and Dirk Kuyt who moved forward out of midfield.
He added: “We intended to play 4-3-3. This led to many opportunities but the ball did not fall for us. But in the drinks break I could tell everyone what I wanted.
“After the equalizer by Sneijder we went back to 4-3-3 and aimed to play to Arjen Robben. Mexico were going backwards and that helped us to force the Robben penalty.”
Robben had been Holland’s first-choice penalty taker but he gave the ball to Huntelaar. Van Gaal explained: “Robben knows Huntelaar from Schalke and how well he takes penalty kicks. He asked Klaas-Jan who was very cool about it.”
Manchester United’s new manager said: “I cannot say that our victory was undeserved. We held possession of the ball better than in our previous games.”
The early introduction of Bruno Martins Indi after 10 minutes in place of Nigel De Jong had been a surprise but Van Gaal said this was due to injury.