Holland secured a dramatic 3-2 win over Australia in a thrilling World Cup Group B encounter in Porto Alegre.
In an engrossing match, the Aussies showed plenty of grit and determination and no shortage of skill but will now probably be the first team to exit this summer's tournament.
Louis Van Gaal named an unchanged starting line-up for the Dutch, meaning Lazio target Stefan De Vrij took his place in the side once more. Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie looked to build upon excellent individual displays against Spain last Friday.
Australia meanwhile made two changes to the team beaten 3-1 by Chile. They knew that defeat to the Dutch would all but confirm they cannot make the Last 16.
Both teams’ results in the opening round of matches meant the Aussies were massive underdogs coming into this one, but they were the better team in the opening stages in Porto Alegre. They pressed the Dutch high up the pitch and looked dangerous on the counter-attack.
However, a cheap concession of possession by the Socceroos on 20 minutes was punished severely. Robben picked up the loose ball and raced through the Aussie half before powerfully firing beyond Mat Ryan.
Less than 60 seconds later, though, the Socceroos were level in spectacular fashion. Their talisman Cahill got on the end of Ryan McGowan’s cross to arrow a sensational volley past the helpless Jasper Cillessen.
Ange Postecoglou’s team continued to go toe to toe with their illustrious opponents and they should arguably have had the lead on the half hour mark. Matthew Leckie cut the ball back across the Dutch penalty area, but Mark Bresciano blazed over when he ought to have hit the target.
Holland regained their composure towards the end of the half to an extent but Van Gaal was left with plenty to ponder over at the break.
The second period began at a high tempo with the Aussies almost catching their opponents cold once again. Cahill had the ball in the next once again but the goal was chalked off for what seemed a harsh foul.
At the other end, Wesley Schneider had an effort well saved but the third goal of the match was just around the corner.
Daryl Janmaat was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball in the box at point blank range and Algerian referee Djamel Haimoudi pointed to the penalty spot. Mile Jedinak made no mistake to smash home and put the Socceroos into a shock lead.
Once again, though, the scores were level again soon after. Van Persie beat the Australian offside trap to get on the end of substitute Memphis Depay’s through ball and rifle in for his third goal of the tournament.
The breathless nature of the match continued. Robben went close moments after the equaliser, before a frantic passage of play ended with the Dutch re-taking the lead.
Firstly, Van Gaal’s team gifted the Socceroos possession and a golden chance to score themselves. However, Tommy Oar instead of shooting opted to fizz the ball across goal, which Lackie could only chest straight at Cillessen.
The Dutch then went straight up the other end of the field and Depay let fly from range. It should, in truth, have been saved by Ryan but the keeper allowed the ball to squirm agonisingly into the bottom corner.
In a thrilling game, the Aussies did all they could to snatch a draw but they ultimately ran out of steam. Ryan made two more good saves to keep them within one goal but ultimately it was in vain.
Holland, with two wins from two, can now in all probability look forward to the knockout stages.
Australia, despite their battling performances, will likely be going home after their final group match
Australia 2 – 3 Holland
Robben 20 (H), Cahill 21 (A), Jedinak p 54 (A), Van Persie 58 (H), Depay 68 (H)
Australia: Ryan, Davidson, Cahill (Halloran 68), Spiranovic, Leckie, Oar (Taggart 77), Jedniak (c), McKay, McGowan, Wilkinson, Bresciano (Bozanic 51)
Holland: Cillessen, Vlaar, De Vrij, Martins Indi (Depay 45), Blind, De Jong, Janmaat, De Guzman (Wijnaldum 78), Van Persie (c) (Lens 87), Sneijder, Robben
Referee: Djamel Haimoudi (ALG)
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