Sergio Romero came back to haunt Louis van Gaal as Argentina beat Holland on penalties to reach the World Cup final.
Argentina will face Germany in Sunday’s showdown thanks to the exploits of Romero, who saved from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder in the 4-2 penalty win, which came after a scoreless 120 minutes in Sao Paulo.
Van Gaal knows all about Romero as he signed him for AZ Alkmaar from Buenos Aires-based Racing Club in 2007.
The Argentinian spent two years working under Van Gaal before the Holland coach departed for Bayern Munich.
After the match, the Manchester United manager in waiting admitted he was indirectly involved in Holland’s demise as he schooled the stopper during his time in Holland.
“I taught Romero how to stop penalties (at Alkmaar), so that hurts,’’ the Holland coach said.
“We were the club to bring him to Europe.
“He was a big talent, and someone who has the qualities to do that.’’
Van Gaal’s team were favourites to win the penalty shootout.
The Oranje did not miss from 12 yards in their quarter-final shootout against Costa Rica.
But Van Gaal struggled to find enough players to take the spot-kicks in Sao Paulo, which surprised him greatly.
“It should give you confidence. We took those penalties in an incredible way against Costa Rica,’’ Van Gaal said.
“But the issue is you score the first one and I asked two players to take the first ball before ending up with Vlaar.
“I thought he was the best player on the pitch so should have a lot of confidence.
“It just goes to show it’s not easy scoring in a penalty shoot-out.
“It’s the most terrible scenario, to lose on penalties: at the very least we were equal with them, if not the better team.
“It’s a big disappointment.’’
Van Gaal hailed his team for their “fantastic” efforts in Brazil.
If the Dutchman had things his way he would be heading to England now to begin his new job as Manchester United manager, but instead he will head to Brasilia to prepare his team for a third-place playoff that he is clearly not a fan of.
“I think this match should never be played,” he said. “I’ve been saying that for 10 years. We’ll have to play that match. It’s unfair.”
Van Gaal would prefer to be planning for a final, of course. That is what Alejandro Sabella has to do following his team’s progression.
He thinks Argentina will face formidable opponents in the Maracana on Sunday.
“I have great admiration for them,” said Sabella of Germany, who hammered Brazil 7-1 in the other semi-final on Tuesday.
“The Germans have always shown physical might, tactical powers, mental force and have always had the players with a certain South American touch like (Felix) Magath, (Lothar) Matthaus, (Franz) Beckenbauer.
“They have been planning for a long time. They know about organisation.
“The match is extremely difficult, and they haven’t played extra-time when we’ve played two. In 1998 we beat England in extra-time and lost against Holland in the heat of Marseille, and it harmed us. We have to recover and work to make sure we are ready.”