Dutch top Group B
SAO PAULO (AP) – Leroy Fer scored a minute after coming on as a substitute to break the deadlock and help give the Netherlands a 2-0 victory over Chile today and top Group B at the World Cup with three consecutive wins.
Fer had only just replaced Wesley Sneijder when he rose almost unmarked in the Chile penalty area to put the Dutch ahead with a powerful 77th-minute header. Another substitute, Memphis Depay, then tapped in a cross from Arjen Robben in injury time to double the lead.
Both teams had already advanced to the second round, but Chile’s first loss of the tournament consigned them to second place in Group B.
The Dutch now travel to Fortaleza to play the Group A runner-up in the round of 16. Chile face the Group A winner in Belo Horizonte.
Group A leader Brazil will play already-eliminated Cameroon later today and Mexico will face Croatia in the other match.
Chile began with their trademark fast, attacking style while the Dutch, with a five-man defence, looked content to sit back, absorb the pressure and hope to break out with swift counterattacks.
The strategy paid off handsomely.
Perhaps with an eye on the round of 16, Chile left midfielder Arturo Vidal on the bench. The Juventus star underwent knee surgery last month but started Chile’s first two matches in Brazil and said before the match he was fit to play.
His absence deprived Chile of midfield creativity and they struggled to break down the well-drilled Dutch defence.
The Netherlands were playing without suspended captain and striker Robin van Persie and were also missing defender Bruno Martins Indi, who suffered a concussion in the team’s last match, a tough 3-2 victory over Australia in Porto Alegre.
Van Gaal pulled another tactical surprise with his starting line-up – reverting to the 5-3-2 formation he began with against Spain and posting veteran forward Dirk Kuyt at left back. Dynamo Kiev striker Jeremain Lens started in place of Van Persie.
It was the substitutes who made the difference late in the game when Fer scored almost with his first touch and Depay doubled his World Cup tally in stoppage time.
Group B Results
Netherlands 5, Spain 1
Chile 3, Australia 1
Netherlands 3, Australia 2
Chile 2, Spain 0
Spain 3, Australia 0
Netherlands 2, Chile 0
Final Group B Standings
Teams Matches Wins Draws Losses Goals for Goals against Points
Netherlands 3 3 0 0 10 3 9
Chile 3 2 0 1 5 3 6
Spain 3 1 0 2 4 7 3
Australia 3 0 0 3 3 9 0