Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie both found the net as the Netherlands beat Australia 3-2 during an entertaining match in Rio.
Going into the game many were fearful for Australia, the lowest ranked team at this years competition according to the official FIFA rankings, especially after the Dutch’s 5-1 domination of the current World Champions Spain in their first game. However, typically of this world cup so far, this game was not as predictable as that.
After an uneventful start the game burst into life after 10 minutes, first Robben picked the ball up on the halfway line and sprinted through the Australian defence before firing a low left footed shot past Alex Wilkinson in the Australian goal.
That goal puts Robben, who scored twice against Spain, level with Germany’s Thomas Muller on three goals in the race for the golden boot.
However, the Dutch fans barely had time to enjoy the replays of the goal, just 69 seconds after the ball hit the Australian net it was in the goal at the other end and with some style.
Tim Cahill may be 34 years old but he certainly didn’t look it when a long, cross field pass was played out to him and peeled off his defender, made room and hit his volley first time. The ball left his foot like a bullet, past a helpless Jasper Cillessen and into the goal off the underside of the crossbar to level the scores.
After halftime the Australian’s shocked the world further by taking a 2-1 lead when the referee awarded a controversial penalty when he deemed that Daryl Janmaat had handled the ball in the area, Mile Jedinak sent the keeper the wrong way to score from the spot.
The Socceroos led for just four minutes when Van Persie sprung the offside trap and fired the ball past the goalkeeper with his left foot from 10 yards. That goal takes Van Persie level with Muller and Robben as the tournament’s top scorer.
With the scores level this game was decided in the 67th minute, first Australia stole the ball from the Dutch defence and crossed to an unmarked Matthew Leckie at the back post, the cross was an awkward one for Leckie who could only weakly chest it down to a grateful goalkeeper.
Seconds later the Dutch punished them, substitute Memphis Depay was given time and space in front of the defence and hit a dipping shot from 30 yards. Australia’s goalkeeper Mat Ryan could and should have done better.
When the full time whistle went Australia had a lot to be proud off, they had played with heart and really worried a side that many are tipping as potential champions.
The result means that, while they are not mathematically out, Australia will need some unlikely results in the final games of Group B if they are to qualify for the next round.
Meanwhile the Dutch stay top, six points and a healthy goal difference puts them in a powerful position going into the final game of the group stages.
There will be some notable absentees for both of these sides as Van Persie and Cahill both picked up their second yellow cards of the tournament meaning both will miss their sides final group games.
The final group games for these sides will take place on Monday 23rd June, when the Netherlands face Chile and Spain play Australia.