2014-06-24 02:13:16

Netherlands overcome Chile, Spain win back pride against Australia

The Netherlands have come out on top in their last Group B match 2-0 against Chile, although the scoreline was perhaps flattering to the Dutch. In Spain versus Australia - both out of the competition - Spain won 3-0.
Two of the Brazil World Cup's most dazzling sides came head to head in Sao Paulo on Monday, where the Netherlands gradually overcame Chile in a slow-boiling affair.

The match saw both sides involved in nice build-up play, but little quality in the final third - as evidenced by the 0-0 scoreline for the greater part of the match.

Chile began as the more attacking side, with the Netherlands laying deep and hoping to hit their opponents on the break.

With Chile's star midfielder Arturo Vidal on the bench, having undergone knee surgery last month, the South Americans lacked the creativity they showed previously.

Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez proved the greatest threat for the Chileans, coming particularly close early in the second half with a powerful shot that was blocked by Dutch keeper Jasper Cillessen. However, in what had been a relatively lackluster affair, the Netherlands' counterattacking strategy was first to yield a dividend.

It was in the 77th minute when Norwich City's Leroy Fer - on the pitch for less than two minutes - got to a teasing cross from Daryl Janmaat to nod it cleanly in past Chilean keeper Claudio Bravo.

Memphis Depay made it 2-0 after Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben, from a sprint down the left, cleverly picked out the PSV midfielder, who tapped it away. The goal was second of Depay's tournament and provided further cause for celebration to Oranje fans present at the Itaquero Stadium.

"I'm very proud of this team," said Robben after the match. "If you see how we fought here today. We were right on top of them and gave them no chances."

The result sees the Netherlands finish atop Group B, ahead of Chile. They will play the runner up in Group A, which will be Mexico, Croatia or possibly even Brazil.

Much of the excitement came in the other Group B game, a dead rubber between Australia and Spain, where the champions - already out of the tournament - avoided the ignominy of gaining no points in the group stage.

Australia had started full of energy, but - perhaps because of the suspension of talismanic forward Tim Cahill - didn't pose the type of attacking threat they had in earlier games.

As Spain began to stamp their mark on the game, David Villa - set for a three-month spell in Australia with Melbourne City - looked particularly menacing.

Spain's first goal was on 36 minutes, when Villa - in his final appearance for the national side - backheeled in from a Juanfran cross. The second came on 69 minutes, when, from a glorious pass by Andres Iniesta, Fernando Torres sidefooted the ball in to double the Spanish tally.

Australia's misery was complete in the 82nd minute, when Cesc Fabregas lifted the ball over a beleaguered Australian defense, giving Juan Mata plenty of time to slip the ball through keeper Mathew Ryan's legs.

(agencies, imedia)

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