PORTO ALEGRE: The Netherlands moved to the World Cup last 16 with a breathless, come from behind 3-2 win over Australia and a loss to second straight loss for defending champions Spain in other Group B match later yesterday evening.
Louis van Gaal’s side will become the first team into the knockout phase if Spain fail to beat Chile in Group B’s late game.
Arjen Robben gave them the lead before Tim Cahill hit a spectacular equaliser in the first half.
The Socceroos edged in front thanks to a Mile Jedinak penalty before Robin van Persie levelled and substitute Memphis Depay grabbed the winner.
The Dutch took the lead after 19 minutes when Robben sprinted away from Alex Wilkinson on the halfway line before leaving behind a succession of defenders.
He then calmly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Maty Ryan for his third goal of the tournament having netted twice in the 5-1 rout of defending champions Spain.
The lead lasted just over a minute before former Everton star Cahill scored one of the goals of the tournament.
Mark Bresciano played the ball to Matthew Leckie whose deep cross from the right fell invitingly for Cahill to volley in a spectacular equaliser with his left foot.
It was Cahill’s fifth career World Cup goal but he then turned villain when he was booked for a brutal tackle on Bruno Martins Indi which left the Netherlands defender on a stretcher and ruled Cahill out of the final group game against Spain.
Robin van Persie was booked early in the second half and he too will miss the next game, against Chile.
Australia took the lead on 54 minutes when Daryl Janmaat was penalised for handball and Australia skipper Jedinak buried the penalty kick into the corner.
Back came the Dutch four minutes later with van Persie suddenly finding space to beat Ryan with a fine finish.
Substitute Depay put the Dutch back in front with a swerving strike which slipped through the hands of Ryan.
“I just wanted the players to get the reward for the way they went about things today,” said Australian coach Ange Postecoglou.
“I have put a lot of pressure on the players and the staff that we are going to be a certain type of team and take it to world-class opposition, but it is one thing saying it and another thing doing it.” AFP