The Netherlands 2, Chile 0
A header with his first touch from Leroy Fer, and a late Memphis Depay goal, secured the Netherlands a 2-0 win over Chile that sends them through to the Round of 16 as Group B winners. Louis van Gaal’s side will now face the Group A runners-up.
The Dutch were without Robin van Persie, with Jeremain Lens leading the attack, while Dirk Kuyt took to the field for his 99th cap. However, the free-scoring Oranje struggled to penetrate their opponents early on. Chile went closest in the opening quarter of the game, with Felipe Gutierrez firing over after a training ground corner routine from Alexis Sanchez, but both sides were lacking the flair that had seen them qualify from the group prior to their meeting in Sao Paulo.
Dead-balls were also proving the most positive avenue of attack for the Netherlands. Wesley Sneijder could only fire his free-kick tamely into the hands of Claudio Bravo, though, before Arjen Robben almost found Stefan de Vrij at the far post.
The Bayern Munich winger almost produced one of the goals of the tournament soon after, bursting from inside his own half and cutting a swathe through the Chilean defence, only to drag his shot wide of the far post. Gutierrez again went close, this time getting his head to a deep free-kick, but when that flashed wide it ensured both sides ended the first-half goalless for the first time in Brazil.
The last time the teams met was 86 years ago at the Olympics in Amsterdam, where the drawing of lots were needed to separate them, and it was beginning to look like things would be that tight again with little in the way of chances up until the hour mark. However, delightful skill from Sanchez saw him cut in from the left-hand edge of the box, nutmegging Lens superbly, but the Barcelona man fired from a tight angle, with Jesper Cillessen always favourite to defend his goal at his near-post.
Robben continued to look like the Netherlands’ chief threat, but his effort from the edge of the box caused Bravo little threat, before Kuyt flashed a header from his corner wide. The introduction of two substitutes were the catalysts for the South Africa 2010 finalists to break the deadlock. Depay’s wicked shot was palmed over by Bravo, and when the following corner was eventually played in, the unmarked Fer was on hand to head home with his first touch just inside the post.
This sprung Chile into life as they pushed for an equaliser – though knowing they would need two to overhaul the Dutch at the top of Group B. They came closest when Jorge Valdivia’s near-post flick-on deflected off Nigel de Jong, but bodies on the line prevented it sneaking in.
With the Chileans committed, a rapid breakaway saw Robben and Depay wrap up the points, with the former charging away from the South American defence, before crossing for his youthful colleague to slide in at the far post and double his FIFA World Cup™ tally.