You probably thought you had already seen the goal of the tournament.
After all, what could possibly top Robin van Persie's flying, outstretched header from 17 yards out against Spain that inspired a new Internet meme?
Until Wednesday, the answer to that question was "nothing." But this World Cup has been all about one brilliant moment piling on to the next, and, in that spirit, another moment of pure brilliance has been added to the list—courtesy of the foot of Australia's Tim Cahill.
You can see that below, along with a recap of the day's results and a look at the Golden Boot race in this year's tournament. The good times just keep on coming, folks.
Well, unless you're from Spain, that is.
|Group||Team 1||Result||Team 2|
Golden Boot Tracker
|Robin van Persie||Netherlands||3|
|Lee Keun-Ho||South Korea||1|
|Joel Campbell||Costa Rica||1|
|Oscar Duarte||Costa Rica||1|
|Marcos Urena||Costa Rica||1|
|Stefan de Vrij||Netherlands||1|
|Wilfried Bony||Ivory Coast||1|
|Clint Dempsey||United States||1|
|John Anthony Brooks||United States||1|
Wednesday scorers highlighted
If you took a sip of water, or got up to go the bathroom during Australia vs. Netherlands, chances are you missed a goal. It was that wild.
Arjen Robben opened the scoring with another scintillating run and finish in the 20th minute, but less than a minute later, Tim Cahill answered with arguably the goal of the tournament thus far. Relive the madness yourselves, via ESPN FC:
Trying to put into perspective just how magical that goal was is no easy feat. Dan Levy of Bleacher Report came pretty close, however:
Cahill’s goal is like Willie Mays catching the ball over his shoulder, only instead of catching it he kicked it 80mph in the top of the net.— Dan Levy (@DanLevyThinks) June 18, 2014
It remains to be seen if "Cahilling" will become an Internet meme; but man alive, what a screamer that goal was.
With the Dutch switching to their traditional 4-3-3 in the second half after an injury to central defender Bruno Martins Indi—they started the game in the same 3-4-1-2 that worked to perfection against Spain—the game really opened up.
The Aussies took a shocking lead in the 55th minute, as Daryl Janmaat was called for a harsh handball in the box, and Mile Jedinak converted the penalty. But three minutes later Van Persie struck again, smashing a shot into the top of the net.
In the 70th minute, the man who came on to replace Martins Indi, Memphis Depay, made his mark, scoring the go-ahead goal on a dipping shot from range that probably should have been saved by Aussie 'keeper Mathew Ryan. That would prove to be the difference.
Give Australia this—they played as well as you could have imagined. They played their hearts out. They probably deserved a point. The Dutch were simply better.
But boy, was it fun.
And boy, have the Dutch been good. In a World Cup full of goals, the Netherlands have contributed their fair share. Just consider this pretty amazing stat passed along by Squawka Football:
After the game, Wesley Sneijder addressed how the formation change opened up the game, via Elko Born of The Telegraph:
Wesley Sneijder: 'We should've put more pressure on their defence. That's easier to do with 3 men, so I guess that's why we made the switch'— Elko Born (@Elko_B) June 18, 2014
After that, well, the reign of the Spanish came to an end.
Bolstered by goals from Eduardo Vargas and Charles Aranguiz that Iker Casillas would likely love to have another crack at—the keeper is having a shocker of a tournament—and a pressing approach that never allowed Spain to get into a rhythm, Chile knocked the defending champions out of the tournament (and Australia along with them).
Spain created their chances but never could put together the final touch needed. And while Chile were excellent and deserve full credit for the win, several Spanish players were simply dreadful, Xabi Alonso and Jordi Alba most notably.
It was a painful way to see the Spanish era come to an end. But it also seems fitting in such a wild and crazy World Cup that a new champion would be crowned.
Dermot Corrigan of ESPN summed up the Spanish ineptitude in one tweet:
In winning Euro 2008, 2010 World Cup & Euro 2012, Spain conceded 6 goals in all 19 finals games. In just 2 outings in Brazil they let in 7.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) June 18, 2014
The final match was a fairly anticlimactic way to end the day, in no small part to the lack of composure shown by Cameroon's Alex Song. With Croatia already up a goal, the following happened, via ESPN FC:
What in the world was he thinking?
That moment of stupidity couldn't overshadow the brilliance of Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic in Croatia's 4-0 win, however. The former notched a brace, while the latter earned a goal and an assist. It's all up for grabs now when Croatia and Mexico face off next week.
But back to the goals.
In the Golden Boot chase, both Robben and Van Persie are firmly in the hunt. RVP's second yellow card will keep him out against Chile—potentially a major blow for the Dutch—but should they advance to the knockout phase, as it looks like they will, both he and Robben will make a major push to finish atop the goal-scoring chart. Mandzukic put his name in the hat by opening his tournament with a brace as well.
Can they keep up with Muller? Will Neymar get back to his goalscoring ways against Cameroon? Who else will emerge in the tallies race?
So many questions. So many answers that will be brilliant to watch play out.