|Mexico's Rafael Marquez vies with Netherlands's Arjen Robben during a Round of 16 match between Netherlands and Mexico of 2014 FIFA World Cup at the Estadio Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil, on June 29, 2014. Netherlands won 2-1 over Mexico and qualified for Quarter-finals on Sunday. (Xinhua/Zhou Lei)
By Sportswriter Pan Yi
FORTALEZA, Brazil, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Three-time runners-up Netherlands roared into the World Cup quarterfinals after coming back from behind in late minutes to beat Mexico 2-1 here on Sunday.
The Dutch victory marked the first time in World Cup knockout round history that a team trailing in the 88th minute won without playing the extra time.
After a lackluster first half, Dos Santos scored for the first time in two years to give Mexico a 1-0 lead in the 48th minute. The No. 10 held off Daley Blind to fire off a half-volley from the top of the area to the bottom corner past a diving Jasper Cillessen.
Netherlands pushed for an equaliser and broke Mexican hearts in the final moments after Wesley Sneijder's super strike and Klaas van Huntelaar's calmly finished penalty.
Mexico, which had been eliminated from the round of 16 five times in a row, failed to break the jinx.
The Dutch men tied the score in the 88th minute when Sneijder hit a perfect half-volley into the lower corner on Huntelaar's head-back and not even the impressive Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa could get to it.
Sneijder's goal was the latest-ever Dutch equalizer at a World Cup. It was Sneijder's sixth career World Cup goal.
Two minutes later, Arjen Robben was fouled inside the box by Mexican captain Rafael Marquez. A penalty was awarded and Huntelaar, who came on as a 76th-minute substitute, scored from the spot and Ochoa dived the opposite way.
"We didn't keep the ball, we weren't calm and we didn't hold the ball. We gave away our initiatives," Mexico coach Miguel Herrera said after the game.
Meanwhile, Herrera strongly criticized the referee for the penalty shot.
Robben played a key role in the Dutch victory today, even though he did not collect a goal. His fast-pace breakthroughs were the main threat to the Mexican backline.
However, Herrera played down Robben, saying that Robben should have been fouled out.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal fielded the same consevative 5-3-2 formation as that in their last group match against Chile, with forward Dirk Kuyt de facto in the backline. Mexico's formation was 3-5-2.
Van Gaal was forced to make an early change only 10 minutes into the game as the injured De Jong limped off.
Van Gaal said after the game, "De Jong is a key player and his absense is a heavy blow to the whole team."
"So far, I don't know how serious his ankle injury is and if he can play in the quarterfinals," he added.
In the 20th minute, Mexican midfielder Hector Herrera broke through the backline and nearly connected on a looping ball into the box but his header was deflected wide.
Four minutes later, Mexican defender Carlos Salcido shot from distance after the Dutch backline dropped off but the Dutch keeper Jasper Cillessen palmed it away and out for a corner.
On 27 minutes, Dutch star forward Robin Van Persie, the captain on the field, made a good run into the box and got a shot off but it sailed wide.
Due to the heat and humidity in Fortaleza, there were two official cooling breaks during the match, each three minutes in length. The first stoppage came after the 30th minute once the ball went out of play, and the second was on 75 minutes.
Van Gaal said that he had taken advantage of the cooling breaks to change the whole team's formation and tactics twice in the game .
The Netherlands will face the winners of Costa Rica vs Greece in the quarterfinals. They have a greater chance to enter the top four.