Costa Rica’s remarkable World Cup run came to an end after they were beaten by Holland on penalties following a goalless 120 minutes.
The Dutch had the better of the chances before the shootout in the quarter-final tie, but the Central Americans again showed resilience and no shortage of skill to go toe to toe with their illustrious opponents.
Following a frantic additional 30 minutes, the drama escalated when Holland Coach Louis Van Gaal opted to bring substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul on solely for the shootout. It proved an inspired choice.
Memphis Depay and Bruno Martins Indi replaced Nigel De Jong and Paul Verhaegh in Holland’s starting line-up, with Van Gaal otherwise naming an unchanged team from the one that beat Mexico in the Last 16.
The Central Americans meanwhile were making their first ever appearance at the quarter-final stage of the competition. Their boss Jorge Luis Pinto made just the one alteration to his selection.
Oscar Duarte, who was sent off in the Round of 16 clash with Greece, was suspended and made way for Johnny Acosta in the Ticos’ backline.
The pattern of play was established early on, with Costa Rica happy to allow the Dutch the majority of the possession. However, they gave just as good as they got as both teams showed an attacking intent without really creating a clear cut chance.
The Dutch’s array of attacking eventually talent began to find space between the Ticos’ midfield and defence though, and they fashioned the match’s first opportunity of note on 20 minutes.
Dirk Kuyt’s excellent cut back on the right found Wesley Sneijder, who played in Robin Van Persie. The Manchester United man unleashed a powerful shot, but it was excellently smothered by impressive Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Nine minutes later, the Levante shot-stopper was again on hand to save his team, blocking Depay’s left-footed strike from inside the area.
Van Gaal’s team were having the better of things by now and seven minutes before the break, they again went close. Sneijder’s free-kick from distance was destined for the top corner, but once again Navas was equal to it.
Costa Rica's best chances to take the lead themselves have been through set pieces but they will have been more than happy with their first half's work.
The second period began in subdued fashion, with the Ticos continuing to demonstrate excellent organisation to nullify the Dutch’s attacking play. In truth, the Europeans were not doing enough to force the issue.
Just after the hour mark, the Central Americans went the closest they had all night when Giancarlo Gonzalez headed over following another dangerous free-kick.
At the other end, Ron Vlaar did the same for Holland from Sneijder’s excellent ball in as the Dutch really struggled for rhythm and chances.
Ten minutes from the end of the 90, the Oranje finally upped the tempo and created a flurry of chances. First, Sneijder’s free-kick had even Navas beaten all ends up, but the ball agonisingly cannoned off the post.
A minute later, Van Persie got a shot away from close range following a Dutch corner, but yet again the Costa Rican keeper was alert to the danger. The Holland forward then appeared to be through on goal but miscontrolled the ball at the crucial moment.
30-year-old Van Persie then had an even better opportunity two minutes from time. He finally got goalside of the Tico defence to get on the end of Sneijder’s cross, but somehow missed his kick from three yards out with the goal gaping.
Astonishingly, Van Persie was denied again in stoppage time in scarcely believable circumstances. A frantic goalmouth scramble ended with the striker shooting beyond Navas, but the ball incredibly ballooned off Yeltsin Tejeda on the line before hitting the bar and bouncing to safety.
Come the start of extra-time, it was very much a case of attack vs defence as Costa Rica looked increasingly weary. Navas saved again from Vlaar before the Aston Villa defender was involved in drama at the other end.
On a rare foray forward by the Ticos, substitute Marcos Urena appeared to be tripped by the Dutchman. With the majority of the crowd baying for a penalty, however, Uzbek referee Ravshan Irmatov was unmoved.
From somewhere, the Central Americans found the energy to begin threatening as an attacking force once again. Urena embarked on a mazy run and bore down on goal, but the previously redundant Jasper Cillessen made a crucial save.
The game became extremely stretched and Holland again stuck the woodwork with moments left in the additional 30 minutes. Sneijder's shot from range was too good for Navas, but again the ball rebounded off the frame of the goal and Robben's follow up attempt was blocked. As it was, the Ticos heroically held out for penalties, but not before Krul made his dramatic entrance in added time, replacing Cillessen.
In the end, it was the Dutch players' experience on the big occasion that proved decisive. Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder and Kuyt all held their nerve to score, while Umana and Bryan Ruiz missed for Costa Rica.
As such, the Ticos' brave adventure comes to an end, but Van Gaal's gutsy call is rewarded with a semi-final against Argentina on Wednesday.
Holland 0 – 0 Costa Rica aet
Holland win 4 – 3 on penalties
Holland: Cillessen (Krul 121), Vlaar, De Vrij, Martins Indi (Huntelaar 105), Blind, Van Persie (c), Sneijder, Robben, Kuyt, Wijnaldum, Depay (Lens 76)
Costa Rica: Navas, Acosta, Gonzalez, Umana, Borges, Bolanos, Campbell (Urena 66), Ruiz (c), Diaz, Gamboa (Myrie 79), Tejeda (Cubero 97)
Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)