Manchester United's decision to appoint Louis van Gaal as their new manager was given added validation after an inspired tactical change saw Netherlands reach the World Cup semi-final at the expense of Costa Rica.

After a goalless 120 minutes in Salvador, Van Gaal opted to replace No.1 goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen with Tim Krul for the subsequent penalty shoot-out.

Though the Newcastle United goalkeeper had only saved two of the 20 penalties faced for his club, Krul had impressed Van Gaal sufficiently to be thrust into the pressure-filled situation.

And the decision paid dividends as Krul saved spot kicks from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana to send Netherlands through to the last four where they will face Argentina for a place in Sunday's final.

"We all thought Tim was the best keeper to stop penalties," said Van Gaal. "He is taller and has a longer reach. It worked out. That was beautiful. I'm a bit proud of that."

While Dutch fans will now be dreaming of reaching a second successive World Cup final appearance, the decision from Van Gaal was yet another reminder to United fans that their absence from the summit of English football might only be temporary.

Former manager David Moyes was constantly criticised for his inability to make decisive decisions during his haphazard eight months in charge of United, a season during which the club recorded their worst ever Premier League finish and failed to qualify for the Champions League.

On Van Gaal's decision to bring on Krul, former United defender Rio Ferdinand said: "I like all that gamesmanship from Tim Krul. I like my goalkeeper to do that, to try to put them off, it puts a bit of edge to it. Man United fans will be buzzing and thinking 'What a manager we have got'."

Despite not officially starting his United tenure until after the World Cup, Van Gaal has wasted little time in stamping is authority on operations at Old Trafford, allowing several players – including Ferdinand – to leave, while Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera have both joined the club.