Netherlands qualify for the next phase after a tough game against Australia
by Nick D
Jun 18, 2014 1:52 PM EDT
Australia faced the Netherlands in their second game of the tournament and surprisingly began the game the stronger of the two teams. They pressed the Dutch high up the pitch and failed to give them any space in the midfield. The ball movement was superb by the Aussies as they kept Netherlands off the ball and slowly started to push the Dutch deeper into the their own half. Australia also would be the first to threaten the goals out of the two teams and win the first corner of the match. Though as Australia started looking the more likely to score and the better of the two sides. They would find themselves a goal down after 20 minutes of play. As they pushed forward Bresciano would lose the ball to Robben in the centre of the pitch. Robben would catch Australia short a player at the back and make a great run towards the goal. The Bayern Munich player would go all the way into the box and then slot past the keeper and give Netherlands the lead, pretty much against the run of play.
Arjen Robben scores his third of the campaign as he gives the Dutch the lead after 20 minutes of play
Though Australia wouldn't lie down and almost immediately after the restart Cahill would link up with McGowan to score one of the best goals of the tournament so far. Australia got the ball on the right side of the midfield and McGowan would cross in a high searching ball towards Cahill who made his way into the box. Cahill would judge the ball perfectly and then meet it so sweetly on the volley and thunder the ball into the bottom of the crossbar. The keeper had no chance as the ball thundered past him and into the back of the net. Australia draws level and deservedly so after the strong and attacking start.
Tim Cahill scores a fantastic goal to level up the game in the first half
The rest of the half was all Australia as the Netherlands struggled to get into any rhythm and find a way into this game. Australia controlled the tempo and the possession too. The midfield play was sensational for Australia and a lot that was due to Bresciano's effort. Jedinak too was also playing well as he stood strong in front of the defenders and kept the Dutch at bay.Australia would also have a good chance to take the lead as Bresciano and Leckie both had good opportunities but one shot was blasted well over the bar, while the other was straight at the keeper and lacked any power to trouble him. 1-1 as the halftime whistle sounded and the Dutch with a lot to do to find a way past this relenting Australia side that have shocked the fans and the world with a great first half performance.
The second half and Australia couldn't have asked for a better start. Bozanic was brought on for Bresciano as the veteran Australian player was given a rest after his superb performance in the first 50 minutes of the game. The change was immediately rewarded as Australia would find themselves with the lead after 54 minutes. Bozanic would make a great run into the left side of the box and put pressure on the defenders. Then just as he measured his cross and looked to chip the ball in Jaanmat would run in to block it only to have the ball hit his arm and the ref had no choice but to award the penalty kick. The Australian captain Jedinak would step up and with the nation on his shoulders, he cooly sent the keeper the wrong way and gave Australia the lead.
Mile Jedinak gives Australia the lead after converting the spot kick
Though just like Australia the Netherlands would fire back only minutes later. A great run towards the box by Sneijder would find Van Persie unmarked and the striker wouldn't disappoint as he buried the ball past the keeper and once again the game was back on level ground. 2-2 and a scoreline surely no one had predicted so far. Australia though didn't look back and kept the pressure on as the pace of the game increased two folds by both teams. Then Australia would once again catch the Dutch in the back-line and win the ball in a very dangerous area. Though Leckie tried to get into position to meet the cross from close range. Unfortunately for him it would find the hands of the keeper. Then in a cruel twist Depay would give the Dutch the lead with a fabulous strike form about 25 yards out. The substitute midfielder would get into his stride and as the defenders backed of him he fired in a low curling shot that was too powerful as the keeper did get a hand on to it but the ball still found the bottom right corner of the net. 3-2 for the Dutch and Australia would have to be very disappointed as they didn't deserve to be down in this game.
The Dutch celebrate after Van Persie's equaliser and Depay's strike as they take the lead against Australia
The Netherlands managed to hold on for the narrow victory as they now find themselves the first side to qualify for the knockout stages. Australia did put on a great display but in the end they had chances to finish the game off but failed to make them count. But at least they put in a valiant effort and could hold their heads high after their first two performances.