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World Cup 2014

Australia 2 Netherlands 3: Highlights, key battles, and what this result means

Published on Jun 19, 2014 2:54 AM
Australia's midfielder and captain Mile Jedinak (left) vies with Netherlands' forward Arjen Robben during a Group B football match between Australia and the Netherlands at the Beira-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre during the 2014 Fifa World Cup on June 18, 2014. 

Not many thought before the start of this match that the Australians could survive the Dutch. To quote the Sydney Morning Herald: "If the Netherlands can put five past the world champions, what hope Australia?"

But what a pleasant, edge-of-your-seat surprise this match turned out to be.

The Socceroos lost 2-3 to the Oranje, but the performance of the green and gold, which included another goal of the tournament contender from former Everton man Tim Cahill, should be something the Australians feel very proud of.


- With the Australians starting much better than they did against Chile, and the Dutch taking some time to settle down, it took a while for the match to take off. But once it did, it really did.

Arjen Robben started things off with a brilliant solo run from the halfway line after dis-possessing Alex Wilkinson. Robben, the fastest footballer ever tracked by FIFA, gave his defenders no chance in catching up before tucking it away easily.

- But Cahill and Co. hit back fast - virtually from the kick off - and equalised in 69 seconds. And what a way for Cahill to respond, firing a volley with his left foot after a cross from Mathew Leckie.

- Daryl Janmaat's handling of the ball in the Dutch box gives Australia a penalty (albeit a harsh one) which captain Mile Jedinak converts easily. Unthinkable, but the Socceroos had the lead against the Netherlands.

- We say had, because it lasted all of four minutes. Robin van Persie with the shot this time thanks to an assist from substitute Memphis Depay, to wake up from his first-half slumber.

- Just when it seemed Australia were about to take the lead for a second time, Leckie's weak header at a pretty much open goal is saved and gives the Dutch the chance to go on the counter. A long-distance shot from Depay that Australian goalie Mathew Ryan should have saved sounds the death knell for the Socceroos. 

Key battles

- Matthew Spiranovic v Robin van Persie
One would be forgiven for thinking that van Persie was left out of the starting line-up. The Flying Dutchman had his wings clipped for the first half, no thanks to Spiranovic. The Australian succeeded in muting van Persie, who completed just one pass in the entire first half.

- Mathew Leckie v Daley Blind/Bruno Martins Indi
Leckie missed the shot that might have given his side a win (or at least a draw), but put in a stellar performance on the right. Stole the wing away from Martins Indi and Blind, the star player for the Netherlands in their demolition of Spain just a few nights ago.

Man of the Match

Memphis Depay

Still only 20, his coming on just before half-time (to replace an injuerd Martins Indi) turned the match around for the Dutch. His coming on allowed the Dutch to penetrate better in attack.

He is also now the first Dutch player in World Cup history to come on as a substitute to score and give an assist (to van Persie goal).

What this result means
- With Spain's exit from the competition (after their 0-2 loss to Chile), the Netherlands are assured a berth in the round of 16. But all depends on their final group stage match against Chile, who also have six points after two matches. It could go down to goal difference for Netherlands and Chile, but whoever tops the group will have a good chance of avoiding Brazil. 

- A creditable effort for Australia, who entered the competition as the lowest-ranked of all 32 teams. One more match - with pride the only thing on the line - remains against Spain, but they are bound for home.

Tim Cahill, who will be suspended for this last match, will not feature. Could signal the end of his World Cup career, but if so, what a way and what a goal to go out with.