Recap: Australia vs. Netherlands

 

The Sports Network

Porto Alegre, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - The Netherlands grabbed a comfortable lead in Group B by taking three points from an entertaining 3-2 victory over Australia at the Estadio Beira-Rio on Wednesday.

The win sees the Dutch improve to six points to climb to the top of the group, though the result was in doubt due to a stellar performance from Australia.

Arjen Robben's 20th-minute opener was canceled out one minute later by Tim Cahill, and the Aussies seized control of the match in the 54th minute thanks to Mile Jedinak's penalty kick.

But the Dutch responded admirably as goals from Robin van Persie and Memphis Depay lifted the side to a momentous victory.

It looked as though the Netherlands would rout the Aussies when Robben handed the Dutch the lead in the 20th minute. Daley Blind pounced on a giveaway in the middle of the park and gave it to the Bayern Munich man, who went the length of the pitch and fired a left-footed shot past Matt Ryan for his third goal of the tournament.

But the Socceroos managed to level the score within 70 seconds of the opener and it was Cahill who did the honors, getting on the end of Ryan McGowan's ball into the box and hammering a sublime left-footed volley off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net.

Cahill's day got a little worse in the 43rd minute when he was shown a yellow card for a rash challenge that forced Bruno Martins Indi out of the match. It was the second caution of the tournament for the Red Bull New York man, putting him out of the nation's final match of the group stage due to yellow card accumulation.

Van Persie suffered the same fate just two minutes into the second half when a stray arm caught Matthew Spiranovic in the face, ruling the Manchester United striker out of Holland's Group B finale against Chile.

Both sides opened up in the second half, but it was Australia that managed to break the deadlock nine minutes after the restart. A cross from Oliver Bozanic was blocked by the arm of Daryl Janmaat, though the Dutch defender was too close to avoid the delivery. Still, referee Djamel Haimoudi pointed to the spot and Jedinak converted to give the Aussies a vital lead.

Unfortunately, the Dutch proved to be too powerful as Van Persie equalized within four minutes. The United striker received a deadly through ball from Depay and slotted a shot past Ryan for his third goal in two games, breathing life back into Louis van Gaal's side.

The Netherlands took the lead for good 10 minutes later when Depay, a second- half substitute, took Jonathan de Guzman's pass and uncorked a long-range effort that trailed away from Ryan in the Australia net and nestled just inside the post.

Holland has been flying on the offensive end thus far, scoring eight goals through its first two games of the World Cup. The Dutch will hope to keep that trend going on Monday when they face an attack-minded Chile side that leaves itself open at the back.

"(Australia) played really aggressively," Robben said. "They played like it was their last chance. We were a little bit under pressure, but we gave the ball away too easily. But we made big step today. We have maximum points. Goal difference can make a difference, so the first game was like an extra point for us. We've seen so many great goals at this World Cup. It's great for everybody, great for the fans, and we saw (some more) today."

Australia, on zero points, must hope that Spain defeats Chile at the Maracana later on Wednesday in order for the Aussies to have any chance at advancing to the knockout round.

Game Notes

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