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Soccer-Krul's World Cup debut short and sweet

Reuters

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SALVADOR, Brazil, July 5 (Reuters) - Netherlands goalkeeper Tim Krul made the shortest and most spectacular of World Cup debuts on Saturday, coming on seconds before the end of the quarter-final against Costa Rica to save two penalties in a shootout and give the Dutch victory.

With the clock ticking down at the end of extra time and the match goalless, coach Louis van Gaal sent on the 26-year-old Krul as a replacement for first-choice keeper Jasper Cillessen.

It proved a shrewd move as the towering Krul saved spot-kicks from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana to give the Dutch a 4-3 shootout victory and a place in the semi-finals against Argentina.

Krul has reportedly been working specifically on saving penalties for seven weeks with Dutch coaches and he looked confident from the moment he arrived on the pitch.

He did his best to put off the Costa Rica penalty-takers, leaping about on his line and approaching them as they placed the ball.

"That is not normal," Krul told reporters. "You sit the whole match on the bench and then you have to go in and save the penalties. I don't know what I can say."

Krul plays his club football at English Premier League side Newcastle United where he is not known as a penalty-saving specialist. He has stopped just two of the 20 he has faced.

"You sit on the edge and think it might go to extra time and penalties and you have to take the team from the quarter-finals to the semis," he added. "It's a dream, it's unbelievable."

Krul's heroics stole the show from Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas who won the man-of-the-match award after a string of fine saves to deny the dominant Dutch for 120 minutes before the shootout.

Cillessen had a quiet evening and made his only noteworthy save near the end of extra time when he stopped an effort by Michael Umana before making way for Krul. (Reporting by Gideon Long, editing by Ed Osmond)

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