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World Cup players get time to cool off during game

SAO PAULO – The Netherlands’ 2-1 win over Mexico on Sunday, a game played in 90-degee heat and high humidity, was the first World Cup game in which pre-planned cooling breaks were observed.

Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca stopped the game about half an hour into each half to allow the players to rehydrate. Given the intense weather in parts of Brazil, tournament organizers suggested 3-minute “cooling breaks” be implemented when the temperatures top 90 degrees.

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal said the pause also figured into his game strategy, with the Netherlands subbing in Klaas Jan Huntelaar to coincide with the second-half pause. Twelve minutes later Wesley Sneijder scored the tying goal for the Dutch and 4 minutes into stoppage time Huntelaar scored the game-winner on a penalty kick.

“I changed my tactics during the cooling break. Yes, it was an advantage,” said van Gaal, who had requested the pauses before the game.

The U.S.-Portugal game in Manaus also included a pause for water late in the first half, but that came during an injury break when the referee allowed players, including both goalkeepers, to retire to their benches for fluids.

Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times