It was a big day today for the Australians and the Dutch of FIFA World Cup’s Group B. The game was the Socceroos’ second chance to prove their worthiness on the pitch, and was the Netherlands’ opportunity to secure progression to the next round of play. Though the Oranje came away with the win, Australia once again gave a heroic effort and caused some initial problems for their opponents.
Mathew Leckie claimed in an interview that the Australians had some tricks up their sleeve for the Dutch. The Socceroos came out playing high on the flanks, effectively controlling the ball possession for the initial 15 minutes of the half. The Dutch were unable to settle down and play their game, and were caught chasing the Australians for the beginning of the match.
While a great tactic against the Dutch, the drawback of playing so high was that Robin van Persie was able to capitalize on the counter attack. Indeed the Australians, though successful at keeping the ball, were caught a man down in the event of a turnover. Van Persie converted in the 20th minute, giving the Dutch a 1-0 lead over the Socceroos.
One minute later, Tim Cahill responded with a phenomenal goal—one that will undoubtedly be remembered alongside van Persie’s diving header against Spain as one of the best goals of the 2014 World Cup. With the score tied in the 21st minute, neither team showed signs of letting up.
Things changed in the 43rd minute when Cahill was booked for tackling Oranje defender Bruno Martins Indi. Having received two yellow cards in group play, Cahill will miss his team’s last World Cup match of 2014 against Spain on Monday.
The Netherlands made some formation changes during halftime and combated the Australian pressure up top by switching to a 4-3-3. Instead of getting stuck playing defense, the Dutch were able to transform their play and take on a more attacking stature.
In the 53rd minute, the Australians were given a gift in the form of a hand ball in the Oranje box. Midfielder Mile Jedinak took the penalty kick for the Socceroos and was able to put the ball in the back of the net in the 54th minute. For the first time in the tournament the Australians were in the lead during a game, with a goal up on the Dutch at 2-1.
The lead was short-lived as van Persie got the equalizer in the 58th minute. The goal had a cascade effect, and marked a definitive change in possession. The Dutch were able to significantly out-maneuver and out-muscle the Australians following van Persie’s equalizer. After Leckie was unable to get his head behind the ball in the 67th minute (he instead opted for his chest, which placed the ball nicely in Dutch goalkeeper, Jasper Cillessen’s hands), the Dutch responded with the game winner.
Memphis Depay received the ball in the center of the midfield and caught the unsuspecting Australian squad off-guard. Depay was able to take a few touches without pressure before rocketing the ball past Australian goalkeeper, Mathew Ryan.
The game was another phenomenal World Cup showing for both teams, but ultimately an upset for the Australians, as they will not advance out of group stages. The Netherlands will take their 3-2 win over the Socceroos, and are set to face Chile next Monday, June 23rd at the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo. Unfortunately for the Oranje, they will face the Chileans sans van Persie, who was booked with his second yellow card during the game.
Commentary by Courtney Anderson
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer Covering World Cup Group B
Observation by author
Guardian Liberty Voice