Scaloni praises astute Argentina after the victory of the Netherlands

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has praised his side for “dealing with every situation” after seeing them overcome the Netherlands on penalties to secure a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

Scaloni’s men squandered the 2-0 lead given them by a goal from Nahuel Molina and a Lionel Messi penalty with two late goals from Dutch substitute Wout Weghorst sending the match into extra time and beyond.

Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved the first two shots from the Dutch spot, Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghuis, before Lautaro Martinez bagged the winning effort to send Argentina into the semi-finals against Croatia.

Scaloni said: “Argentina have team spirit because we know how to deal with every situation in the game.

“It’s true that we didn’t deserve to go to penalties, but we fought until the end because the Dutch put us in trouble.

“It was a strange second half. When you think it’s all over and then it’s not, you’re surprised.

“This team has pride, experience and young players, and that’s essential because we want to fight.”

The match exploded on several occasions with Spanish official Antonio Mateu Lahoz setting a World Cup record by issuing 15 cards, 14 yellow and one red – to Denzel Dumfries after penalties – surpassing the previous record of 14, set in 2002 between Cameroon and Germany.

He also appeared to have lost control on a couple of occasions with both benches involved in shoving in the second half of normal time and again after 90 minutes.

Scaloni said: “I don’t want to talk about the referee, I have an excellent relationship with him and luckily everything went well.

“The match was heated, this was a quarter-final, it happens. Stay on the pitch but we had 11 men out there.”

Asked whether he was surprised by the Dutch approach late on with long balls to Weghorst and fellow substitute Luuk De Jong, Scaloni declined to comment.

He said: “I won’t get into this debate. They played in a way I didn’t expect but they were almost out of the World Cup, every manager decides how he wants to play.

“I won’t talk about their philosophy, I’m nobody to judge how they played.”

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal is now retiring after leading the Dutch side for the third and last time.

The 71-year-old has been heavily criticized in the country’s media for his style of play during the World Cup but insists he retires with his head held high.

He said: “There’s nothing to reproach me for. The boys fought until the end and now they’re in the dressing room discouraged. They gave everything, I’m incredibly proud.

“I had a great time. It’s incredibly painful to go out like this, especially since I did everything I could to prevent that from happening.

“What I’m leaving is an excellent group, like people and players. I was a coach for 20 games and we haven’t lost any of them. There’s a reason.”

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