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May 1, 2017

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Soccer fans root for Argentina, the Netherlands in Taipei

TAIPEI--Hundreds of football fans stayed up early Thursday to watch a World Cup semi-final and cheer for Argentina or the Netherlands at restaurants and bars in Taipei.

About 200 local people and foreigners sat in an Argentinian restaurant, Gaucho, to watch the match that lasted for more than two hours, in which Argentina beat the Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the final.

Upon the conclusion of the match, the Argentina fans — many of them wearing the South American team's blue-and-white strip — jumped and shouted in joy, hugging each other.

"I feel awesome," said Bob Kuo, a 30 year-old Taiwanese fan. Kuo and several freinds took the following morning off work in order to watch the game, which began at 4 a.m. in Taiwan, and show their support for Argentina, they told CNA.

Among the Argentinian fans was Debora Michelmann from Argentina. She was so happy about the results she cried, while hugging her son.

Despite Argentina's victory over the Netherlands, Michelmann — who is visiting her son in Taiwan — said both teams played a "slow" match.

The penalty shootout was required after the game held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, ended in a 0-0 draw at the end of extra time.

But another Taiwanese fan, Andrez Chen, shared a different view, praising Argentina's performance in defense during the match.

"I am very excited," he said. "Although it will be a tough fight with Germany in the final, I am confident that Argentina will win." In the other semi-final match played a day earlier, Germany thrashed Brazil 7-1 in one of the most humiliating defeats in the host nation team's history.

Meanwhile, around 100 football fans gathered next door at The Three Lions Inn bar, a dozen of whom were clad in orange to root for the Dutch team.

"I am a diehard fan, so I am pretty sad. But it's ok, I think they still did very well," said Hank Huang, 28, who came to watch the match with a group of friends.

There were many young players on the Dutch team this year, so they should be applauded for coming this far, Huang said, adding that he cannot wait to see what these players can accomplish in the next World Cup.

Tyler Siu, a 22-year-old Hong Kong student in Taiwan, said he was "a little disappointed" at the result, but was impressed by the Argentina goalkeeper's great performance in the penalty shootout.

"It was an exciting match," he said.

Argentina is set to face Germany in the final at 3 a.m. Monday, Taipei time, while the Netherlands will play Brazil at 4 a.m. Sunday, Taipei time, in the third place play-off.

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