SALVADOR, Brazil -- It took a stunning moment from the Unjolly Green Giant to finally put an end to Costa Rica's World Cup run.Follow @SlamSports
Until Saturday night -- and only after 120 minutes of goalless soccer had already been played -- reserve goalkeeper Tim Krul was Louis Van Gaal's best-kept secret.
The Dutch bench boss conspired with his lanky, 6-foot-4 netminder before Saturday's quarterfinal should penalties arise.
It was the risk of all risks. The boldest of moves considering the stage doesn't get any bigger. It as a move only Van Gaal would even attempt.
Still, with only a few seconds remaining in extra time at Arena Fonte Nova, Van Gaal went to his bench, summoning Krul to everyone's disbelief.
Starting Dutch 'keeper Jasper Cillessen didn't take it well, either, kicking a water bottle and throwing his gloves when he was brought off minutes before penalty kicks.
"We said nothing to him (beforehand)," Van Gaal said of Cillessen. "We didn't want for him to be faced with it before the match.
"Every 'keeper has a specific quality. We felt Tim (Krul) had a longer reach and a better track record. With Tim, we discussed this (before the match)."
So, clad-in-green, on came Krul with less than a minute remaining, allowing him to be the 'keeper tasked with stopping Costa Rica's penalties.
Not only did Krul's massive frame look intimidating, he also took aim at Celso Borges, Costa Rica's first kicker.
Before the first attempt, Krul made an "I'm watching you" gesture, putting his fingers to his eyes.
After Borges and Robin van Persie both converted, Krul approached Costa Rica's second taker, Bryan Ruiz.
Meeting Ruiz at the spot, Krul said something and then told the Costa Rican to put the ball down.
"Maybe he was a (penalty kick) specialist," Costa Rican manager Jorge Luis Pinto said post-game. "I've never seen it before. We were not intimidated."
Maybe not, but Krul stoned Ruiz's attempt, paving the way for a second save on Michael Umana to lift the Netherlands into the semifinals.
"We thought this through beforehand," Van Gaal reiterated. "Every player in my selection has skills and qualities.
"We felt that he would be the most appropriate 'keeper to stop penalties. We knew he had a long reach."
After helping his team advance from the spot against Greece last week, Costa Rican 'keeper Keylor Navas, following another stuffing performance, came up small this time around.
"That's the way it is," Pinto said. "That's the nature of penalties. It depends on luck."
And a little finesse, of course. The Dutch penalty-takers didn't give Navas much of a chance, converting all four of their attempts.
"We hurt but we feel happy nevertheless," Pinto said. "The Brazilian people have supported us throughout."
For the Central Americans, the tournament ends. But not after cementing themselves in World Cup folklore as one of the biggest Cinderella stories since North Korea made the quarters in 1966.
Although the Dutch were the better side here Saturday night, the Ticos nearly found a winner three minutes from penalties when Marcos Urena dribbled through an exhausted Dutch defence before putting an open look right at Cillessen.
"If you miss so many opportunities, the opponent can beat you," Van Gaal added -- something they nearly did.
But after navigating a group containing three defending champs -- Uruguay, England and Italy -- Costa Rica goes home happy, having showed the globe that Costa Rica is a squad to be taken seriously.
"We have played against powerhouses," Pinto said. "We have not been beaten.
"We were well-organized," Pinto added. "It was difficult for the Netherlands to attack. Sometimes we were lucky."
Like when Dutch No. 10 Wesley Sneijder struck the crossbar a few minutes from the end -- his second post of the match after striking the post on a restart in the 82nd minute.
Van Persie also had an effort deflect off a Costa Rican player before hitting the crossbar seconds before extratime.
And with Navas once again coming to the rescue multiple times through the first half, as the match grew older, you felt the Costa Ricans were blessed.
"They must feel proud," Pinto said of his players. "We have presented high quality. We came here respecting huge countries. Still, we played at an even level."
Until Van Gaal, the mastermind behind a 5-1 thrashing of Spain to start the tournament went to his secret weapon -- a Trump Card of sorts to set up a meeting with Argentina.
As crazy as it was to see tiny Costa Rica a goal away from advancing to the last four, it took an even crazier moment at Arena Fonte Nova Saturday night to finally unseat the CONCACAF minnows.
It took the Unjolly Green Giant producing a moment made for the movies -- a fitting end to a Costa Rican script that was already being written.
NETHERLANDS 0 - COSTA RICA 0 (Dutch advance 4-3 on penalties)
1 CR - Celso Borges - Make
1 NED - Van Persie - Make
2 CR - Bryan Ruiz - Saved
2 NED - Arjen Robben - Make
3 CR - Giancarlo Gonzalez - Make
3 NED - Wesley Sneijder - Make
4 CR - Christian Bolanos - Make
4 NED - Dirk Kuyt - Make
5 CR - Michael Umana - Saved
5 NED - X