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Dazzling Dutch dances on
PORTO ALEGRE—Louis van Gaal can pinpoint the moment he knew his Netherlands team would be able to hold off Australia and secure the win that ultimately put them through to the knockout rounds of the World Cup.
With just over 20 minutes to go in a frantic, seesawing match, Australia missed a golden chance to take a 3-2 lead.
Sitting on the bench, van Gaal saw that as the sign and turned to his assistant coaches to tell them.
“I said to Patrick Kluivert and Danny Blind, ‘We’re going to win this match because if they miss that kind of chance, we will score the goal.’”
Seconds later, he was proved right. From the very next attack, substitute Memphis Depay drove a swerving, speculative shot toward the goal from 25 yards. Australian goalkeeper Maty Ryan didn’t sight it early enough and the ball shot past his outstretched right hand.
It capped a game that intensified suddenly when a 20th- minute solo run and strike by Arjen Robben was cancelled out seconds later by a stunning volley from Australia’s inspirational veteran Tim Cahill.
Australia then went ahead with a second-half penalty, only for Robin Van Persie to equalize four minutes later.
The result left the Netherlands, which thrashed defending champion Spain 5-1 in its opening game, on the verge of advancing from Group B. That was confirmed a few hours later when Chile beat Spain, knocking the 2010 World Cup winners and Australia out of contention.
“Bitterly disappointing,” Australia manager Ange Postecoglou said. “Just for the players, they were magnificent. They took it to a world-class team. Full credit to them, but I just feel bitterly disappointed they weren’t able to get some reward out of it today. We came to this World Cup and we’re playing against three of the best nations in the world.”
When Robben opened the scoring, giving him a third goal for the tournament, another rout seemed to be in the works. But that was only for only a matter seconds, with Australia equalising after Ryan McGowan sent a long, looping pass from the midfield to Cahill, who volleyed over Jasper Cillessen onto the underside of the bar in one of the best goals of the tournament so far.
Mark Bresciano and Matthew Spiranovic missed chances that could have given the Socceroos a halftime lead.
Just before the interval, Cahill needlessly clattered into the back of Bruno Martins Indi and was given a yellow card. He was also booked in Australia’s opening 3-1 loss to Chile, meaning he may have played his last World Cup game. Martins Indi was helped off the field, replaced by Depay to start the second half, and later taken to a hospital with a suspected concussion.
At the start of the second half, Netherlands changed from a 5-3-2 system that worked so well against Spain to a more traditional Dutch 4-3-3 style to incorporate Depay, but it was Australia which took the surprise lead with a penalty after Daryl Janmaat handled the ball in the area.
Mile Jedinak converted from the spot in the 54th but Van Persie leveled again four minutes later. He later received his second yellow for the tournament, ruling him out of Netherlands’ last group match against Chile. (AP)
World Cup Glance
Cameroon 0 vs Croatia 4 (Ivica Olic 11, Ivan Perisic 48, Mario Mandzuki 61, 73)
Spain 0 vs Chile 2 (Eduardo Vargas 20, Charles Aranguiz 43)
Australia 2 (Tim Cahill 21, Mile Jedinak 54 pen) vs Netherlands 3 (Arjen Robben 20, Memphis Depay 68, Robin Van Persie 58)
Colombia vs Ivory Coast, Brasilia, noon
Colombia’s record against African sides at the World Cup is balanced with one defeat (against Cameroon in 1990) and one win (against Tunisia in 1998).
Ivory Coast’s two previous World Cup matches against South American sides both ended in defeats (1-2 v Argentina in 2006 and 1-3 v Brazil in 2010).
Didier Drogba has scored both of Ivory Coast’s goals against South American sides at the World Cup (v Argentina in 2006 and v Brazil in 2010).
Japan vs Greece, Natal, 6 pm
This is Japan and Greece’s first World Cup encounter.
Their only previous meeting was in the 2005 Confederations Cup with Japan securing a 1-0 win thanks to a goal by Masashi Oguro. Yasuhito Endo is the only current member of the Japan squad to have taken part in that game.
Greece have failed to score in six of their seven World Cup games. Only against Nigeria in 2010 did they manage to find the net (2-1 - Dimitris Salpingidis and Vasilis Torosidis).
Uruguay vs England, Sao Paulo, 3 pm
England have scored in each of their last eight World Cup encounters with South American sides.
England recorded their highest ever World Cup pass completion rate (91%) in the opening match vs Italy (1966-2014).
Uruguay continued their run of not winning an opening group game since 1970 and they have won only once in their second game in their last six World Cup appearances.
Italy vs Costa Rica , Natal, noon
Switzerland vs France, Salvador 3 pm
Honduras vs Ecuador, Curitiba, 6 pm.