Argentina through to first final since 1990
Goalkeeper Romero's double save sends Messi and Co into final against Germany
- After extra time, Argentina win 4-2 on penalties.
Argentina will face Germany in the World Cup final on Monday morning (Singapore time) after they edged past Holland 4-2 on penalties.
The Dutch had surpassed all expectations by reaching the semi-finals but, for a nation with a long history of penalty heartbreak, it was too much to ask for them to win two consecutive shoot-outs.
Misses by Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder saw them beaten by the icy cool Argentine side, who didn't miss a single kick.
Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has had a difficult tournament.
He was forced to change his 5-3-2 formation at half-time in the first game by the players, he has seen his decisions questioned by the press at every turn and he has lived on his nerves as his side edge through the competition.
But he has taken Argentina further than they have been since 1990 and he is now just 90 minutes from triumph.
With so many goals scored in the first semi-final, perhaps it was inevitable that the second would be a far cagier affair.
Neither Holland nor Argentina managed to carve any clear-cut opportunities from open play.
It took the Dutch 99 minutes to put a shot on target and, between them, both teams managed only five in total across two hours of football.
The closest Argentina went to scoring in normal time was Lionel Messi's 13th-minute free-kick, fired in on goal carefully and competently claimed by Jasper Cillessen.
A wild and inaccurate shot from Sneijder was as near as the Dutch came.
If anything was going to change the game, it was more likely to be a red card than a goal. With that in mind, Louis van Gaal removed Bruno Martins Indi at half-time, concerned that the Feyenoord man's booking could easily be repeated and at great cost.
Daryl Janmaat, who hadn't played since the group stage, was brought on in his place with a reshuffle sending Daley Blind to centre back. It made absolutely no difference.
With the exception of the defences, everyone was off their game.
Sneijder put nine crosses over, not one of them made it to a teammate.
Lionel Messi was missing, presumed marked out of the game after 10 minutes.
The set-pieces, from both teams, reached an almost superhuman level of wretchedness.
There are goalless draws that are entertaining and exciting. This was not one of them.
LACK OF QUALITY
The lack of quality on display was so obvious that the only people who could have enjoyed this game were German.
Arjen Robben was denied a famous winner shortly before full-time by an outstanding challenge from Javier Mascherano.
The Barcelona midfielder, one of the few outfield players to excel, thundered in from nowhere to stretch a toe in front of Robben as he pulled the trigger.
It was a block that was every bit as valuable as a goal.
Rodrigo Palacio had a chance to win the game shortly before the end of extra time, but he didn't realise how much time he had and rushed a header when he could have allowed the ball to his feet. Cillessen was grateful for his recklessness.
When penalties came, it was almost a relief for both teams. It was certainly a relief for the supporters.
The Dutch had needed spot-kicks to defeat Costa Rica in the quarter-finals, but there van Gaal had played his trump card and thrown Tim Krul into the fray.
This time, with his substitutes used up, he could make no such gamble.
Cillessen looked pleased to have a chance to prove his coach wrong. The smile would not last for long.
Every Argentina penalty was converted. The Dutch missed their first kick, the odd choice of Vlaar falling short immediately, and could never catch up.
They were excellent in this World Cup, a far cry from the sorry collection of players who left Euro 2012 without picking up a single point.
But it was all too much for them. Argentina will now face the all-conquering Germans.