Ange Postecoglou’s Australia put up a valiant fight in keeping the world game relevant in their homeland. But Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands were Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands and Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands punched the Socceroos out of the FIFA World Cup in dominating fashion, 3-2, at the Estadio Beira-Rio Porto Alegre in Porto Alegre, Brazil in Group B play.
The Netherlands join Chile among the first teams progressing to the round of 16. Here are six things we learned, followed by player ratings for the match between Australia and the Netherlands. A side note: AFL and NRL fans will be insufferable the next several days, so Socceroos fans in Australia, please be advised.
1. Arjen Robben starts things off
Early on in the first half, the Netherlands got off the bat real hot, testing the Australia defense with a number of sequences. The Socceroos had the first big chances of the match, with Mark Bresciano’s volley in the 16th minute blocked. In the 18th minute, Arsenal’s Robin van Persie had a header from the right side of the box saved in the center of goal by Mat Ryan.
In the 20th minute, the provider of that chance, Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben, eluded Alex Wilkinson then used his speed to make it 1-0 Netherlands. Daley Blind, who has one of the greatest sporting names in the Benelux region since Bart Swings of Belgian speed skating fame, was there with the assist.
2. Tim Cahill strikes immediately
No sooner had Robben done the damage that New York Red Bulls forward Tim Cahill powered home one of the goals of the tournament, leveling the match on equal terms with a shot from his weaker foot to make it 1-1 21 minutes in. Ryan McGowan had the assist on that Cahill goal.
Robben was hoping to make it a brace in the 24th minute but his shot from outside of the box was blocked. In the 25th minute, Ron Vlaar had a headed miss the top right corner. Bresciano’s rough afternoon continued with a shot from the center of the box sailing over the bar in the 31st minute of play. More chances for Australia came in the 32nd and 34th minute. Matthew Spiranovic had a shot saved by Netherlands goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen and Mathew Leckie had another shot blocked. Cahill was cautioned in the 43rd minute for a foul on Bruno Martins Indi. Martins Indi would be replaced by Memphis Depay, who would play a major role in the second half.
3. Mile Jedinak puts Roos ahead
Early on in the second half, van Persie was given a yellow card in the 47th minute for a foul in Spiranovic. He would miss the next game against Chile but it would be irrelevant later in the day as he would be available for their round of 16 match against an opponent to be determined. Speaking of determined, van Persie was determined to atone for his transgression with a shot in the 49th minute that was blocked. Wesley Sneijder was hoping for a goal in the 50th minute but missed wide left.
In the 51st minute, Bresciano was replaced by Socceroos midfielder Oliver Bozanic. In the 53rd minute, Daryl Janmaat conceded a handball and in the 54th, Mile Jedinak coverted the penalty to give the Roos a 2-1 lead. Fortunately for Janmaat, he would be exonerated later in the half.
4. Robin van Persie equalizes for the Dutch
In the 58th minute, van Persie showed his Arsenal pedigree by springing the offside trap and slamming one home to put the scores all level. Depay, the aforementioned super sub, was the provider on that goal, which is van Persie’s third of the tournament. In the 63rd minute, Cahill had a chance for a brace but his header missed wide right. Leckie had another attempt saved in the bottom left corner in the 67th minute. Ben Halloran would relieve Cahill in the 68th minute of play.
5. Memphis: the home of the blues, pyramids, pulled pork, and…match winners!?
You all know that Memphis, Tennessee is the home of the blues and the best pulled pork in the universe (dispute at your own peril, readers), and that Memphis, Egypt is home to some of the world’s finest pyramids. But did you know that Memphis is also home, or rather, a name, of a super sub from the Netherlands that scored the eventual match winner today? Yes, the aformentioned Memphis Depay of PSV Eindhoven, a 20-year old left winger, became the youngest member of the Oranje to score in the FIFA World Cup, in the 68th minute, with help from Jonathan de Guzman, a Canadian by birth.
You ever wonder why Canada is not good at soccer, at least on the men’s side? They lose players of de Guzman’s caliber to other, more competent countries. Case in point. Now, in terms of the women’s game, it’s a different story. But I digress.
6. More wide-open football as Oranje kick Socceroos out
With the lead at hand, the onus was on the Dutch to play like the Dutch and the other onus was on the Socceroos to finish like the Socceroos and not miss like Spain would against Chile later in the day. Sneijder had another chance blocked in the 72nd minute and seconds later, Bozanic has a shot blocked. Robben was still pressing for that equalizer but his shot was saved by Ryan in the 74th minute.
A couple of substitutes came in at the 77th and 78th minute of play. Australia forward Adam Taggart came in for Tommy Oar and Georginio Wijnaldum (his last name sounds like Wynalda, as in the polarizing Eric Wynalda) came in for de Guzman. Jedinak was another player knocking on the door of a brace but his shot was blocked in the 81st minute. van Persie called it a day in the 87th minute and was repleced by Jeremain Lens, who had the last big chance for both teams in the third minute of stoppage time. His shot was saved in the center of goal by Ryan.
Australia in gold, Netherlands in blue
|4||Shots on Target||9|
|2||Shots off Target||2|
|80 %||Passing Accuracy||79 %|
|50.1 %||Possession||49.9 %|
Australia Player Ratings
Matthew Ryan 1, Alex Wilkinson 3, Jason Davidson 3, Matthew Spiranovic 3, Ryan McGowan 4, Mark Bresciano 4, Mathew Leckie 3, Matt McKay 3, Mile Jedinak 5, Tommy Oar 2, Tim Cahill 5.5, Oliver Bozanic 4, Ben Halloran 3, Adam Taggart NR
Netherlands Player Ratings
Jasper Cillessen 7, Bruno Martins Indi 4, Ron Vlaar 7, Stefan de Vrij 6, Daley Blind 8, Daryl Janmaat 6, Jonathan de Guzman 8, Nigel de Jong 7, Arjen Robbin 9, Robin van Persie 8.5, Wesley Seijder 6, Memphis Depay 10, Georginio Wijnaldum 4, Jeremain Lens NR