KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- The full extent of the Tim Krul drama was revealed only in the aftermath of Holland’s 4-3 shootout victory over Costa Rica after their goalless extra-time draw in the last of the World Cup quarter-finals.
Jasper Cillessen, the Dutch goalkeeper replaced in the last minute of extra time, had been given no hint of Plan B being prepared with Krul in case the tie ran to penalties.
In fact Krul had been put through homework by the coaching staff on Costa Rica’s penalty takers. As the match ran on in normal time without a breakthrough so coach Louis Van Gaal restricted his substutitions so as to keep the switch of Krul for Cillessen up his sleeve. Just in case.
With one minute remaining in extra time Holland sent on Krul for the surprised and upset Cillessen. He dived the right way on all the Costa Rica penalties and, decisively, saved the second and the fifth, shot by Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana.
Afterwards, with progress safely secured, Van Gaal revealed the planning which had gone into his secret Plan B.
He said: “We had thought this through before. Every player in my selection has certain skills and qualities and we felt, all of us [in the coaching staff], that Tim Krul would be the most appropriate goalkeeper to stop penalties because he has a long reach.
“So we prepared for Costa Rica penalties – just as they prepared for our penalties – and Tim Krul dived the right way every time so we are a little bit proud that this trick helped us through.”
Van Gaal then revealed that nothing had been said to Cillessen ahead of the game.
He explained: “We said nothing to Jasper Cillessen beforehand because this knowledge would have been disappointing for him going into the match but . . we had discussed this with Tim Krul and how they would shoot their penalties because he needed to be prepared. Fortunately it worked out.”
Van Gaal acknowledged that holding back a substitute had been a gamble, particularly as his players grew tired in extra time. But the K-Plan had been a feature of his calculations ever since long before extra time was even a factor.
He said: “I had thought about this even before the 90 minutes had ended. Memphis Depay was not playing so I took him off but we were creating lots of opportunities so I didn’t feel the need to substitute anyone else.
“Then, in extra time I had to take into account that I might want to use Krul if it came to penalties. We had players who were very tired so it was a bit tricky and I brought on one other substitute with [Klaas-Jan] Huntelaar.
“That was a risk, actually, because it meant we went from five defenders to four and, as a consequence it was a bit touch and go. But then, in hindsight, it was a huge success.”
Cillessen’s key role
Van Gaal also acknowledged that Cillessen had made a crucial save three minutes from the end of extra time after Urena broke away on the counter-attack.
He said: “I don’t know how much possession we had and how many shots we had on the posts and the bar and how many opportunities we had but it shows nothing counts except for scoring one goal more than your opponent. It was exciting, thrilling.
“There is this football law that if you miss so many opportunies the opponents can walk away beating you. In the 117th minute Costa Rica had their first chance and Jasper Cillessen stopped it. If that [save] had not happened then we would not have moved on. That is football for you.”
Krul, who talked to all the Costa Rica players before they shot their penaltes, said later: “I psyched them out. You try to do everything you can without being too aggressive. I tried to get in their minds.”
He confirmed: “Before the game, the goalkeeper coach came up to me and told me that if we had a change left I would be the man. It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little boy – to have that moment when you make the crucial save and then all the boys are running towards you.”
One of the first Dutch players to reach Krul to celebrate was Cillessen – who had kicked out at the water bottles in his original anger at being substituted before watching the shootout from the bench. Cillessen apologised later for his fit of pique.
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