Vlaar centimetres from World Cup success

Ron Vlaar was the villain as he failed to convert the opening penalty in the Netherlands’ heartbreaking semi-final shoot-out defeat against Argentina, however the story was almost very different, The Daily Mail has revealed.

The Aston Villa defender’s low shot was parried one-handed by Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero, and the Sampdoria stopper ran off celebrating as Vlaar turned away in despair, head in hands.

However, the spin imparted on the ball by Romero’s block caused it to bounce and roll back towards the goal, where images showed it finally stopped agonisingly right on the goal line. Video footage shows Vlaar turning back to see the ball’s tantalisingly slow progress, his hope rekindled before being cruelly crushed again.

Had the ball rolled just a few centimetres more and crossed the line, a goal would have been awarded. The official rules regarding penalties taken in shoot-out scenarios read: ‘A kick is successful if, having been touched once by the kicker, the ball crosses the goal line between the goal posts and under the crossbar, without touching any player, official, or outside agent other than the defending goalkeeper. The ball may touch the goalkeeper, goal posts, or crossbar any number of times before going into the goal as long as the referee believes the ball’s motion is the result of the initial kick.’

Vlaar should not have even been taking a kick, but was called upon after two other players had already refused to assume the responsibility for the first penalty, Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal revealed after the game.

The Netherlands now face hosts Brazil in the match to decide third and fourth place tomorrow.

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