AUSTRALIA 2-3 NETHERLANDS
WEDNESDAY 18TH JUNE – PORTO ALEGRE
Porto Alegre was the venue for a truly stunning game between Australia and the Netherlands that ended up in a 3-2 victory for the Oranje. Australia were more than a match for the Dutch in this one and they will rue some defensive errors that allowed the Europeans to take the 3 points and march on to the Second Round.
Australia were forced into 2 changes for this match with Ivan Franjic and Mark Milligan, both out injured, and replaced by Ryan McGowan and Matt Mckay, whilst the Dutch fielded an unchanged lineup from their walloping of Spain. Australia learned their lesson from their nervy start in the previous game against Chile and started this game on the offensive and dominated the early stages of the game, with the Dutch happy to sit back and launch counter-attacks. Australia’s achilles heel has been their defence and Arjen Robben showed how fragile it is when he broke through just inside the Australian half and raced away in the 21st minute to open the scoring. If Australia were rocked by the ease in which Robben scored they didn’t show it, as from the kick-off the ball went wide to McGowan who put in a teasing cross for Tim Cahill to volley home a magnificent goal to immediately even the scores up again.
Australia seemed to be buoyed by Cahill’s efforts and took the ascendancy for the remainder of the half with their movement and directness really causing the Dutch some concerns. For the Dutch, they were not allowed to get into any rhythm with their passing and were being rattled by the 62nd ranked side. Australia were forced into a change early in the 2nd half with the excellent Mark Bresciano succumbing to a back injury and replaced by Oliver Bozanic. Bozanic had an immediate impact when he surged into the box and his attempted cross hitting the arm of Darryl Janmaat and forcing a penalty. Australia’s captain Mile Jedinak stepped up and stroked the penalty home to give Australia a shock, but deserved, lead.
Australia’s shaky defence proved to be their undoing again though, as not long after grabbing the lead Robin van Persie took advantage of a failed offside trap to be all alone in the box and smash home the equaliser. This deflated the Aussies the Netherlands took back the ascendancy shortly after when halftime substitate Memphis Depay was given too much time on the edge of the box to place a shot past a floundering Maty Ryan to give the Dutch the lead once more. Australia tried valiantly to try and force an equaliser with Tommy Oar and Matthew Leckie both coming close but their chances were done when Cahill was curiously substituted towards the end of the match. The Dutch did enough to hold on at the end and took the game 3-2.
Australia defied their lowly status and gave an excellent account of themselves here and did not deserve to lose but the Dutch had too much firepower when it counted and they march on. The Dutch will be concerned by this performance and they will need to tighten up their defensive unit ahead of the knockout stages. Their next test comes against Chile on Tuesday in a match that will decide who finishes top of Group B. For the unlucky Australians they face off against the World Champions Spain at the same time and will be hoping to get some reward for their efforts in the past 2 matches. Both sides, though, will be without their talisman with Cahill and van Persie both picking up their second yellow cards of the tournament and will be suspended for the final Group games.
AUSTRALIA: Ryan, McGowan, Spiranovic, Wilkinson, Davidson, Jedniak, McKay, Bresciano (Bozanic 51), Leckie, Oar (Taggart 77), Cahill (Halloran 69).
GOALS: Cahill 21, Jedniak 54.
BOOKINGS: Cahill 43.
NETHERLANDS: Cillessen, Janmaat, Blind, Martins Indi (Depay 45+2), Vlaar, De Vrij, De Jong, De Guzman (Wijnaldum 78), Sneijder, Robben, Van Persie (Lens 87).
GOALS: Robben 20, Van Persie 58, Depay 68.
BOOKINGS: Van Persie 47.
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