Netherlands beat Chile 2-0, seal top spot in Group B

NETHERLANDS have maintained their perfect record at the 2014 World Cup, beating Chile 2-0 at the Arena de Sao Paulo to seal top spot in Group B.

Both sides had already qualified for the second round going into the contest, having each beaten Australia and Spain.

But mainly thanks to their 5-1 thrashing of the Spaniards in Salvador, the Dutch only needed a draw to top the group due to a superior goal difference.

Louis van Gaal’s men defended well, and were happy to sit back for most of the match and rely on the speed of Arjen Robben to hurt the Chileans.

Just when it seemed the match was destined for a 0-0 draw, Dutch substitute Leroy Fer, who had only been on the field for two minutes, rose high to head home in the 77th minute.

Fellow replacement Memphis Depay added a second in stoppage time, getting on the end of a low Robben cross.

The Dutch, who finished with nine points from their three Group B games, will now head to Fortaleza for their round of 16 clash.

Topping the group means they are likely to avoid hosts Brazil in the second round battle, although the Group A qualifiers won’t be decided until later Tuesday.

Chile’s second round clash will be in Belo Horizonte, were they have based since arriving in Brazil earlier this month.

The Chileans, who had produced a memorable performance to beat Spain 2-0 in Rio, failed to reach the same heights against the organised Dutch, who rarely looked flustered.

La Roja perhaps missed the presence of Juventus star Arturo Vidal, who finally succumbed to a knee injury and sat out the match.

Vidal had surgery only last month but still managed to play in Chile’s Group B wins over Australia and Spain.

But with the Chileans already having secured a second round spot in the second round, La Roja coach Jorge Sampaoli decided to not again risk his key midfielder ahead of the knockout stages.

Vidal was replaced by Felipe Gutierrez, who plies his trade in the Dutch first division with FC Twente, in the starting team.

Netherlands coach van Gaal has made three changes to the team that started in the 3-2 win over Australia in Porto Alegre.

Suspended captain Robin van Persie, injured defender Bruno Martins Indi and midfielder Jonathan de Guzman were replaced by Dirk Kuyt, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jeremain Lens.

The opening 10 minutes of the contest were scrappy, but it was Chile who settled first.

The first real chance of the contest came in the 22nd minute from a Chile corner.

Alexis Sanchez drilled a low ball into the path of an unmarked Gutierrez but the midfielder couldn’t keep his shot under the crossbar.

The Dutch worked the way into the contest, and finished the half the stronger, with danger man Robben their main attacking outlet.

In the 33rd minute the Bayern Munich star ran at the stretched Chile defence, but with Nigel de Jong unmarked in the penalty and waiting for what seemed a simple pass, Robben’s delivery was poor.

Looking to redeem himself, Robben whipped a dangerous free-kick into the box. Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij rose high to meet it, but sent his header wide.

Robben took matters into his own hands in the 40th minute, receiving the ball inside his own half before going on a weaving run into Chile’s penalty area.

But with only goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to beat, the former Chelsea and Real Madrid man dragged his shot wide.

The Dutch maintained control for the remainder of the match, with the Chileans failing to inspire in attack.

Fer’s header ensured Netherlands would top the group, with Depay’s late goal the icing on the cake.
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