Featured Matches
Previous
Real Salt Lake
Montreal Impact
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
AC Milan
Olympiakos
0
0
LIVE 14'
Game Details
Vélez Sarsfield
Estudiantes de Caseros
0
2
FT
Game Details
FC Groningen
Aberdeen
1
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
Sligo
Rosenborg
1
3
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 4
Game Details
Stjarnan
Motherwell
3
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 5 - 4
Game Details
Shakhter Karagandy
FK Atlantas
3
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 0
Game Details
Shakhter Karagandy
FK Atlantas
3
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 0
Game Details
Hapoel Be'er Sheva
RNK Split
0
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
MyPa
Dinamo Minsk
0
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 3
Game Details
Omonia Nicosia
FK Buducnost Podgorica
0
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 0
Game Details
Haugesund
FK Sarajevo
1
3
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 3
Game Details
Kuban Krasnodar
Sillamae Kalev
5
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 9 - 0
Game Details
Inter Baku
Elfsborg
(3) 0
(4) 1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
IFK Goteborg
Györi ETO FC
0
1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 1
Game Details
Lech Poznan
Kalju
3
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 1
Game Details
Liberec
MFK Kosice
3
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 4 - 0
Game Details
Tromso
Víkingur Gøta
1
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
KS Flamurtari Vlorë
Petrolul Ploiesti
1
3
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 5
Game Details
SV Grödig Amateure
Cukaricki Belgrade
1
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 5 - 2
Game Details
Chikhura Sachkhere
Bursaspor
(4) 0
(1) 0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
AIK Solna
Linfield
2
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
Zimbru Chisinau
CSKA Sofia
0
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
Shakhter Soligorsk
Derry City
5
1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 6 - 1
Game Details
FC Vaduz
Ruch Chorzow
0
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 3
Game Details
Esbjerg FB
Kairat Almaty
1
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
FC Spartak Trnava
FC Zestafoni
3
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 0
Game Details
FC Groningen
Aberdeen
1
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
FC Zorya Luhansk
Laci
2
1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 5 - 1
Game Details
Hapoel Tel Aviv
Astana 1964
1
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 3
Game Details
Sligo
Rosenborg
1
3
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 4
Game Details
Zawisa Bydgoszcz
S.V. Zulte Waregem
1
3
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 5
Game Details
Vojvodina
AS Trencin
3
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 4
Game Details
Asteras Tripolis
RoPS
4
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 5 - 3
Game Details
Hajduk Split
Dundalk
1
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 2
Game Details
ND Gorica
Molde
1
1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 5
Game Details
Jagodina
CFR Cluj-Napoca
0
1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 1
Game Details
NK Koper
Neftchi Baku PFC
0
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 3
Game Details
Ferencvaros
Rijeka
1
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 3
Game Details
Siroki Brijeg
Mlada Boleslav
0
4
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 6
Game Details
Diosgyor VTK
PFC Litex Lovech
1
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 2
Game Details
Crusaders
Brommapojkarna
1
1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 5
Game Details
St Johnstone
FC Luzern
(5) 1
(4) 1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 2
Game Details
St. Pölten
Botev Plovdiv
2
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 2
Game Details
FH Hafnarfjordur
Neman Grodno
2
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 1
Game Details
Stjarnan
Motherwell
3
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 5 - 4
Game Details
Real Salt Lake
Montreal Impact
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Vélez Sarsfield
Estudiantes de Caseros
0
2
FT
Game Details
Sport
Paysandu SC
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
AC Milan
Olympiakos
0
0
LIVE 14'
Game Details
Next

Five Aside: Gotze's historics secure glory

Five Aside Jul 13, 2014
Read
 Posted by Nicolas Baier
Jul 11, 2014

Sergio Romero: An unlikely hero

Argentina's Sergio Romero delivered when it counted the most for his team, stopping two Dutch spot kicks to send the Albiceleste to the World Cup final.

SAO PAULO -- He stretched out wide, his hands as giant flyswatters. Once. Twice. He carries everyone on his shoulders. His teammates, the coaching staff, his wife and kids, his siblings and friends in the stands, the rest of the fans in Sao Paulo, his parents in the south, and millions of other Argentines far away. And even those who doubted him too.

Yes, people doubted Sergio Romero. His lack of regular play at Monaco generated a lot of criticism. Yet Argentina head coach Alejandro Sabella confirmed him many months before revealing the final list of 23 players for Brazil. He never doubted his goalkeeper, the man whose hands helped Argentina advance to the World Cup final. The man who stepped up with confidence. The man who has made many people think again.

- WhoScored: Key battles: Germany vs. Argentina
- Report: Howedes: Team effort can halt Messi
- Macintosh: Mascherano leads Albiceleste to Rio

In the opening match against Bosnia-Herzegovina, he began to silence his critics at once. He shut down Izet Hajrovic in a one-on-one and made a low save on Senad Lulic's header in the 2-1 victory. He was key in the 1-0 win over Iran, looking his best during headers by Reza Ghoochannejhad and Ashkan Dejagah, and a cross shot by Ghoochannejhad. There wasn't much he could do in the 3-2 win against Nigeria.

In the 1-0 round of 16 win against Switzerland, he blocked a shot by Granit Xhaka and stopped a Xherdan Shaquiri free kick. And in the victory against Belgium in the quarterfinals, he hardly had to work because of the great defense. He punched away all centers well and kept a clean sheet in four of six matches.

Sergio Romero came up with two stops in the semifinal shootout versus the Netherlands to help send Argentina to the World Cup final.
Sergio Romero came up with two stops in the semifinal shootout versus the Netherlands to help send Argentina to the World Cup final.

The ex-Racing de Avellaneda goalkeeper's success is the fruit of his hard work. "To put it simply, my job is to block the ball and keep it from going in," he says. Easy, as easy as he makes stopping his opponents' dangerous shots look.

Prior to the shootout against the Netherlands, Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano said to him, " Today, you become a hero ."

In the mixed zone postmatch, Romero gave more details about what was said: "He told me today would be different. After a year in which I received so much criticism, he told me that I was going to help, that it was my time. He told me to stay calm, cool. Thank God it turned out well, and I give thanks to him and all my teammates."

Although the humble goalkeeper speaks of "luck," the FIFA U20 World Cup winner in 2007 studied his opponents. Yes, Arjen Robben and Dirk Kuyt changed sides on where they would shoot. He had a piece of notepaper in his pants with a phrase to motivate him. "I knew that if I dove to the side where they normally shot, I would stop one." He stopped Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder. It was tough to watch for Louis van Gaal, the coach who welcomed him into Dutch soccer when he signed for AZ Alkmaar.

Dressed in yellow, the 6-foot-3 goalie celebrated by thumping his chest with this right fist. "Eli, Jaz, Chlo. I love you," read the dedication to his wife and kids on his tank top. Chiquito, or "the little one" as he's called, is now a giant and is destined to continue breaking records with the Argentine national team.

He won a gold medal in Beijing in 2008 but finished his first World Cup experience with a painful 0-4 defeat in the quarterfinals at South Africa 2010. The opponent? Germany. Yes, the very same team he'll face in the much-awaited final on Sunday at the Maracanã Stadium.

Sergio Romero was born in 1987, three years before Italy '90. Then, the penalties saved by Sergio Goycochea were the key for runners-up Argentina. Today, Romero has a leading role in another great moment in history.

Nicolas Baier

Nicolas Baier is senior editor based in Buenos Aires at ESPN.com/ Latin America. Nico is in charge of coverage of the Argentine National Team, having reported on Maradona's Argentina squad at World Cup 2010 in South Africa. Follow him on Twitter @NicolasBaier

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.