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Soccer-Dutch comeback kings expect tough match against Costa Rica

Reuters

By Mike Collett

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 30 (Reuters) - The Dutch earned the title "World Cup Comeback Kings" with a 2-1 win over Mexico, the third time in four matches they have come from behind to win in the tournament, and are now preparing for another tough battle against Costa Rica in the quarter-final.

The run started in their opening Group B match when they conceded first against world champions Spain in Salvador on June 13, and trailed for 17 minutes before winning 5-1.

They then trailed 2-1 to Australia four minutes midway through the second half in Porto Alegre on June 18 before turning that game around to win 3-2.

They had no such problems in their third group game seeing off Chile 2-0 in Sao Paulo on June 23, but reverted to type again on Sunday when two late goals gave them their dramatic last-16 win over Mexico in Fortaleza.

They trailed for 40 minutes to Mexico after Giovani Dos Santos put El Tri ahead in the 48th minute before Wesley Sneijder equalised with a blistering shot after 88 minutes and Klaas-Jan Hunter converted the late penalty that put the Dutch into a quarter-final against Costa Rica.

Sneijder said their confidence and self-belief was a factor in overcoming the odds and winning from losing positions.

"Even when we are losing, we go for it," said Sneijder, who has now scored five goals in his last five knockout round matches for the Dutch.

"We are full of confidence, we just keep going, we don't know when we are beaten."

TOUGH TASK

He said the Dutch faced a tough task in the quarter-finals against a second successive team from the CONCACAF region, with opponents Costa Rica reaching the last eight for the first time.

"Costa Rica are a very good team and they came through a difficult group with Italy, England and Uruguay which no-one expected them to do.

"Now they have come through the next round (beating Greece on penalties) and are very happy and it is going to be a very tough game for us to get through to the semi-finals.

"We had a very hard game against Mexico and we need to recover quickly and to be focused because we face another tough match."

One man relishing the match will be Arjen Robben, now 30, but hailed as one of the best players in the World Cup so far with three goals to his credit, and showing no signs of any deterioration in his all-action running wing play.

"I might be getting older but I just feel better and better," said Robben.

"I feel as though I am playing well, I have stayed fit for a long period now and I hope just to stay in this form in this World Cup, I am enjoying the game."

According to FIFA's official match statistics no player has covered more ground in one match than Robben did in the opening group win over Spain, but he was not too interested in the fact he holds "the record" for that at this World Cup.

"I don't know about that, but I am happy with it, I am enjoying the World Cup so lets keep going." (Reporting by Mike Collett, Editing by Nigel Hunt)

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