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World Cup 2014

Netherlands 2 Chile 0: Match highlights, key battle and what the result means

Published on Jun 24, 2014 2:57 AM
Netherlands midfielder Leroy Fer (centre) celebrates his headed goal against Chile in the World Cup. The Dutch won 2-0. -- PHOTO: REUTERS.

This was supposed to be the match where the Netherlands and Chile slug it out for second place behind Spain. Instead, this became a contest to win Group B for two exciting countries who played their part in dethroning the Spaniards.

Bragging rights as match winners was at stake. But more importantly, there is a scramble to win this group as hosts Brazil are likely to win Group A and will meet the runner-up of Group B in the round of 16.

Match highlights

- Both teams stroked the ball around in a tentative first-half, perhaps happy to finish the group stage without defeat.

- But Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal made two substitutions that made all the difference in Sao Paulo. First, midfielder Leroy Fer went airborne to thump a header past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo in the 77th minute off Daryl Janmaat's cross.

- In stoppage time, Arjen Robben tore down the left flank before laying the ball on a platter for striker Memphis Depay to finish Chile off.

Key battle

Nigel de Jong vs Alexis Sanchez

Chile key man Sanchez has been busy in Brazil enhancing his credentials as a world-class forward through his tricky dribbles, startling speed and ability to play for the team.

Enter de Jong, the Dutch priest of pain. The 29-year-old was tasked to sweep across midfield to use some of football's more primitive methods to neutralise the Barcelona star, who must have seen footage of that infamous kick that nearly impaled Xabi Alonso's heart.

Sanchez drew nine fouls throughout the match - More than any other player. And the AC Milan hard man was personally responsible for many of those infringements. It was not pretty, but it reduced the Chilean to his most ineffective game at this World Cup.

Man of the Match

Branded injury-prone and a diver for much of his career, Arjen Robben has shaken off that image with a series of sterling performances for club and country in the years since the 2010 World Cup.

In Brazil, he ran Spain ragged, bamboozled the Australians and early this morning (Singapore time), ripped Chile's backline to shreds.

Even at the age of 30 and with a history of hamstring problems, Robben still has pace to burn. In the first-half, he ran more than half the length of the pitch before dragging a shot wide.

But in stoppage time, he thundered down the left flank again to set up Depay's killer goal. Quite simply, Chile couldn't live with him.

What the result means

The Netherlands became the first team in the 2014 World Cup to win three matches as they topped Group B. They will go on to meet the runner-up of Group A next Monday in Fortaleza.

Chile take second place and will play their round of 16 match against the Group A winners in Belo Horizonte on Sunday.

What was also interesting is how van Gaal didn't mind having vastly inferior possession against Jorge Sampaoli's team. Chile hogged a whopping 64 per cent of the ball but still ended up losers to the Oranje's soak and strike tactics where once the ball is won, the team counter-attack at top speed.