The Netherlands staged a late assault with goals from Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay to beat Chile 2-0 and finish at the top of World Cup Group B on Monday.
Fer’s first international goal on 77 minutes and Depay’s in injury time brought a rousing finish to a game often held in check by World Cup nerves. The Netherlands and Chile had both qualified for the round of 16, but top place was crucial to hopes of avoiding Brazil, who were likely to win Group A.
The best moment in the first half saw Arjen Robben set off on a mazy run from half way and beat several players before dragging his shot wide of the far post.
Depay injected some urgency into the Dutch play after coming on for striker Jeremain Lens in the second half, with a rasping drive that Chile captain Bravo tipped over the bar. The Chilean goalkeeper could do nothing about Fer’s header though, his first touch after coming on, from the resulting corner routine moments later.
Depay sealed the win in injury time after sliding in at the back post to convert Robben’s cross.
In the day’s other Group B game, dethroned champions Spain beat Australia 3-0 in an encounter with no bearing as both sides are already eliminated. David Villa, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata scored for a drastically changed Spanish team that is bound to be a sign of a revolution to come.
Victory means Spain finished third in Group B behind Chile and group winners the Netherlands.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2014.
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