This World Cup in Brazil has become the World Cup of substitutes. Each time a coach makes a substitution it seems to result in a goal. Coaching decisions making differences and it was also going to be the case for Louis Van Gaal of the Netherlands.
This Group B clash between the Dutch and Chile would be to decide who finished first and, most likely, who would avoid facing the home side Brazil in the round of 16. Several changes in his starting 11 were made by Van Gaal. Captain and striker Robin van Persie was out due to his two yellow cards in the first two games. Van Persie was replaced by Jermaine Lens. Also making their first starts in the tournament were veteran Dirk Kuyt, with his 99th cap for the Netherlands, and midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.
All the Dutch needed was a single point to move on to the round of 16. With a draw the Netherlands would remain on top of the group due to goal difference. Winger Arjen Robben would be taking the captain’s armband for the game and lead his team did the fleet footed veteran.
Chile along with Costa Rica have become the darlings of the tournament with their inspired play. The Chileans play an attractive attacking football and had already defeated Australia (3-1) and Spain (2-0) in the tournament. The South American side was looking to set a new record with their 5th successive international victory. Now they were up against the Oranje for 1st in Group B. No one was underestimating them now.
The Chilean fans were greatly adding to the atmosphere in the Arena de Sao Paolo with all their cheering and colour. It was a nice day for a soccer game with a slight breeze.
It was a to be expected cautious beginning of the game by the two sides. It took until the 40th minute for a scoring chance to occur. As you could have expected it was Robben. Robben made a long dash with the ball all the way through the Chilean half. He then left footed a shot along the ground from just inside the 18 yard box that went just wide of the far post. That seemed to loosen things up a little as in the 44th minute Chile had their own chance. This one came off a dead ball opportunity. The Chilean free kick was taken from 45 yards out and Felipe Gutierrez managed to get his head to it behind the Dutch defense. It went just wide of the right post.
A 0-0 1st half was not really what was to be expected from these two sides that notched 13 goals between them coming into this game. At the beginning of the 2nd half Chile had the greater possession of the ball moving it around, but not really creating any clear cut scoring chances.
To shake things up Dutch coach Van Gaal made subs in the 69th and 76th minutes. First 20-year-old forward Memphis Depay came on in favour of Lens and then Leroy Fer came on for Wesley Sneijder. Those swaps paid off in spades for the Oranje. In the 77th minute Robben took a corner for the Dutch. He played it back and it was crossed into the box. An unmarked Fer, with his first touch on the ball, headed the ball into the back of the net. The goal woke up Chile and then pressed for the equalizer earning corner after corner. However, the next goal was by the Dutch. Again it was Robben creating for his teammates. In the 2nd minute of injury time Robben made an incursion into the left side of the Chilean box. He then cut the ball back across the net finding Memphis, who redirected the ball in the net from in close. 2-0 Netherlands. Two goals by subs.
Netherlands has been runners up three times in this tournament is this their turn? In regards to this game, the Dutch were in complete control. They defended well and were opportunistic on their offensive chances. The Dutch will play the Group A 2nd place Mexico on Sunday, June 29th. Chile will have to play against Brazil in the round of 16.
-Referee: Bakary Gassama (Gam)
-Goals: 2nd Half:
77th minute: Netherlands – Leroy Fer
90th + 2nd minute: Netherlands – Memphis Depay
-Shots on Goal: Netherlands – 8
Chile – 1
-Corners: Netherlands – 2
Chile – 7
-Man of the Match: Arjen Robben – Netherlands
-Final Score: Netherlands – 2
-Chile – 0