Netherlands are through to the knockout stages of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, after beating Australia 3-2 in a very entertaining Group B encounter in Porto Alegre.
Their victory, followed by Chile’s 2-0 defeat of Spain, sees both sides already in the last 16. They will play-off for top spot on Monday.
Louis van Gaal’s side went in front at Estadio Beira-Rio through Arjen Robben, and then trailed in the second half after a stunning Tim Cahill volley and Mile Jedinak penalty. But an instant reply from captain Robin van Persie and Memphis Depay’s long-range effort eventually saw them over the line.
While Australia needed points to keep their hopes alive after losing 3-1 to Chile, there were big expectations on the Dutch following their amazing attacking credentials in the 5-1 thumping of the Spanish on Friday.
And Arjen Robben maintained that high standard with a wonderful individual goal after 20 minutes at Estadio Beira-Rio. The Bayern Munich man picked up the ball on the halfway line and drove into the gaping holes left by the Australian defence, before finishing well from a tight angle across goalkeeper Matthew Ryan.
Ange Postecoglou’s men responded almost immediately and in emphatic style too.
Ryan McGowan’s long ball over from the right was met by the sweetest left-footed volley from Tim Cahill, which thundered home off the underside of the bar for his second goal of the tournament.
Australia then went in front nine minutes into the second half, as captain Mile Jedinak slotted home from the penalty spot after a handball from Daryl Janmaat. But the Netherlands’ response was imminent as Wesley Sneijder and Depay set their skipper Van Persie, who found himself with too much space in the penalty area before smashing the ball home.
The match-defining moment came 10 minutes later. Some good work from Tommy Oar saw his cross find an unmarked Matthew Leckie in the six-yard area, but the striker could only chest the ball straight into the grateful hands of keeper Jasper Cillessen.
This proved to be costly as the Dutch went straight up the other end with Depay finding himself in space, before unleashing a powerful strike from 30 yards which was too hot for Ryan to handle.
It was enough for the Dutch who can relax a little now knowing that their passage is secure, but they will probably want to avoid Brazil in the round of 16 should they progress from Group A.
Disappointment for the Aussies who were always going to be up against it in Group B, but they certainly had a go and their effort cannot be faulted.