SAO PAULO (AP) — It was Argentina’s joy, and another sting for Brazil.
The Argentine soccer team beat the Netherlands on Wednesday to win a berth in the World Cup championship match — doing it on archrival Brazil’s soil, and just a day after Brazil was humiliated in a 7-1 loss to Germany.
Thousands of Argentina fans who traveled to Brazil for the tournament wept, kissed and raised their hands to the sky when their team won 4-2 on penalty kicks, sending it to the final for the first time in more than two decades.
“God knows we suffered, but now everything is good,” said a weeping fan Rodrigo Aisen, who sealed the win by giving his girlfriend a long kiss. “Everything is joy!”
The 23-year-old celebrated with 20,000 others in the FIFA Fan Fest watch party in Sao Paulo, following a tense match in which neither team scored until the penalty shootout.
Argentina and Germany will meet in the final on Sunday.
“I had faith that they would win today,” said Maribel Oviedo, 21, who two years ago had a lung transplant because of cystic fibrosis. Her twin sister died from the disease last year.
Her family traveled from Cordoba, Argentina, to see the World Cup, and Oviedo said making the final means more to her than any other sporting achievement.
“Seeing the team in these moments gives me goose bumps. It is something beautiful,” she said.
In Argentina’s capital of Buenos Aires, fans gathered clad in shirts and hats bearing the sky blue and white colors of their flag to celebrate the victory.
Fans said their team’s victories at the World Cup have softened the financial struggles of the country that finds itself teetering on the brink of another default on its foreign debts.
“Argentina deserved to have this joy because we are doing badly otherwise,” said Norma Ontiveros, 59. “This way we can show that not everything is wrong. We have a solid team and good people.”
For Brazilians, the hard-fought win by Argentina only rubbed salt in the wound of their own team’s worst World Cup defeat in Tuesday’s match with Germany.
“If Argentina wins this Cup here in Brazil, we might as well just close the coffin,” said Silvio Martines, 32. “You can bury Brazil. It would be our last blow.”
Associated Press writer Debora Rey in Buenos Aires, Argentina, contributed to this report.
Adriana Gomez Licon on Twitter: http://twitter.com/agomezlicon