Nick D

Netherlands take top spot in Group B as Spain see off Australia 3-0 in their final match

Created on Jun. 23, 2014 2:00 PM EST

The Netherlands and Chile both already guaranteed progression into the next stage met for their final group match. Both teams would be looking to win and secure the number 1 spot in the group as Brazil was expected to finish in top spot in group A and neither team wanted to meet them in the round of 16.
The two would start the match very cautious and both sides would also play the match more physically too. Chile would have studied the Dutch and look to exploit their weaknesses that saw Australia almost come off with a result against them. The chances were limited early on as both teams defended well and closed the space down quickly, not allowing the forwards to get into a scoring position. Chile looked the more dangerous of the two when pushing forward and some good passing was starting to open up the Dutch defensive line. Though still not any real chance at goal as the match approached the half hour mark. The best chance of the half would fall to Chile, as Gutierrez got behind the defence and tried to float in a header from the free kick. The header would go wide and not force a save by the keeper. The halftime whistle approached and neither team had yet to ascertain themselves in this match.

Arjen Robben needing to lift his team as the two teams were deadlocked at half time.

The second half saw Chile start to revert back to their open style of play that saw them defeat Australia and Spain. This started to cause some problems for the Dutch defence as they found themselves being pushed deeper into their own half. The Chileans pressed early on but still not much up front to talk about. The Dutch would regain possession as the match ticked over and now it was their turn to press Chile back into their half. This time it was Chile's turn to defend and possibly look to catch the Dutch out on the counter. Sanchez almost did catch them out, but the keeper would run out and close the space in the box and force the ball out for a corner kick. The match continued on and most of the play was inside the middle third, as neither defence looked like they were going to allow any chances get through. Netherlands would attack well and it was Depay who would try his luck from distance. The shot was headed for the back of the net but the keeper did well to push it over the crossbar. Though the Dutch didn't have to wait long as the resulting corner kick would see the Netherlands take the lead. The corner was played short and passed back to Janmaat who crossed into the 6 yard box. Fer, who just came on, would get in front of the defender and head home. 1-0 and with just over 10 minutes left to play could the Dutch hold on and win all 3 of their group matches. Chile looked to hit back immediately and almost did only minutes later as the Dutch were almost caught from the corner kick. The defender though managed to get the block and deny Chile from scoring from the flick on header. Though Netherlands would cement their victory in the final minutes as Robben used his pace to break free into the box and square the ball across the goal where Depay would score their second of the match and see Netherlands finish in top spot in Group B.

Depay would score a late goal to give Netherlands a 2-0 victory over Chile

Spain would face off against Australia in their final match as both teams were looking to exit the Cup with at least some points on the board. Surprisingly if you said before the tournament began that Australia had a really good chance at securing points against the reigning champions everyone would have laughed at you. Though two poor performances by Spain and some great play by the Aussies and the tide has certainly changed.
Australia started the brighter of the two as they pressed Spain in the midfield and looked to play attacking football. The movement was good by the Aussies and the nerves were showing as Spain struggled to clear their lines early on. Spain made 7 changes to their lineup, while Australia were without their two veterans Cahill and Bresciano. Australia pressed high and needed to be cautious not to get caught on the counter attack.  Reina was in goals for Spain and he needed to be on his toes as Casillas was benched for the final game. Australia looked to keep the tempo high as this play would upset the Spanish side, who preferred a more slow and calculated attack. Though the skill of the Spanish players would eventually take over as they slowly started to take control of the possession and the game.
Torres and Villa were working hard in the forward line but the Aussies defended strongly and didn't allow the two forwards any clear chances. The half ticked over and the scoreline still remained at nil all as there weren't many chances to speak of. The first chance of the match would drop to Jordi Alba as he would make a move at goal and fire in a shot from just inside the left of the box. The shot though was straight at the keeper who was well positioned at his near post. VIlla was next to threaten as he would beat his marker and square a delicious ball across the face of goal. Fortunately for Australia the Spanish forwards weren't able to get a touch that would have surely put Spain in the lead. Though with the pressure applied by Spain it was inevitable that they would find a way through and open the scoring in the 34th minute. Juanfran would get behind the defence and then cut the ball back to the 6 yard box, where Villa was left unmarked and he cheekily back heeled the ball into the net.1-0 for Spain and Australia would see their early hard work go to waste as they found themselves chasing the game and a spark was needed for the second half.

David Villa opened the scoring as he got his first start of the World Cup

The second half saw Australia make a change as Taggart was taken off for Ben Halloran. The change would see the Aussies come out much more aggressively as they searched for the equaliser. Australia did enjoy a nice spell of possession but they still failed to trouble the Spanish goal. The game slowed down and Bosque would bring on Mata for David Villa as he looked to have a more midfield minded player and leave Torres up front alone. Australia continued to enjoy the possession and did find themselves lurking around the box. Though the build up play was good by the Aussies, it was their final touch that was letting them down. The crosses were too close to the keeper and the central defence was too strong and wouldn't allow a clear chance at goal. Then after another good start to the half, Australia would see themselves get caught on the counter attack and go two goals down. Iniesta would make the killer pass through the defence and Torres did well to remain onside and then side-footed the ball into the bottom right corner. 20 minutes left to play in the match and Australia just needed to hang on and not let the Spanish team run away with the game. Though Spain pressed on and would catch Australia once again as Juan Mata got to the Fabregas cross and slotted through the legs of the keeper to give Spain a 3-0 win.

Torres scores as Spain see off Australia 3-0 but it was all too little and too late as the reigning champions were out of the World Cup
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