Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben were both on the scoresheet as the Netherlands battled to a 3-2 victory over Australia on Wednesday in Porto Alegre to claim their second victory of the 2014 World Cup.
Robben opened the scoring in the 19th minute for the Netherlands after a quiet start with a mazy run through the Australian defence. BBC Radio 5 live commented on his terrific form:
Indeed, Opta and WhoScored.com highlighted just how on fire the Dutchman is at the moment, taking his form into the World Cup with two goals in the Netherlands' opening win over Spain:
8 - Arjen Robben has scored eight goals in his last eight appearances for the #NED. Atomic.— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 18, 2014
Arjen Robben: Has now scored 3 goals in 2 apps in the 2014 World Cup, 1 more than he managed in the whole 2010 World Cup #ned— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) June 18, 2014
However, Tim Cahill equalised with a stunning strike seconds later for the Socceroos. Squawka noted that Robben had not quite finished celebrating when the ball hit the back of the net at the other end:
The Aussies really took the game to the Dutch and the expected easy ride for Louis Van Gaal's side never materialised.
Indeed, Van Persie was drawn into a foul against Matthew Spiranovic early in the second half, which sees him suspended for their final game against Chile, per Goal.com:
Australia then went ahead thanks to a controversial penalty that was slotted home by Mile Jedinak. But the Manchester United striker equalised minutes later, firing home after having found space 10 yards out, per ESPN.co.uk:
However, Van Persie was lucky to stay on the pitch soon after when he clattered into Jedinak, per BT Sport's Simon Head:
Van Persie's touch has been exquisite in this game, but he probably shouldn't be on the field after his lunge on Jedinak. Nasty challenge.— Simon Head (@simonhead) June 18, 2014
While the 30-year-old's quality was on show for all to see on Wednesday, his discipline seemed lacking, as Sky Sports' Alex Ferguson pointed out:
I learned this today: Robin Van Persie is a great finisher, and a nasty, cynical player too.— Alex Ferguson (@viewfromamerica) June 18, 2014
British tennis star Jamie Murray seemingly agreed:
Van Persie definitely got a nasty side to him out on the pitch. Not liking it.— Jamie Murray (@jamie_murray) June 18, 2014
Substitute Memphis Depay netted a 30-yard strike—which really should have been saved—to seal the three points and likely last-16 qualification for the Dutch.
Australia made a great account of themselves and were unfortunate to lose, but as Eurosport highlights, the presence of Robben and Van Persie makes the Dutch a super side:
Van Persie was substituted later on, a regular occurrence for the striker per Opta, and will not be available against Chile.
7 - Robin van Persie has now been subbed off in 7 of his last 8 games for The Netherlands. Bubble.— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) June 18, 2014
However, based on the outcome of Spain's game against Chile later on Wednesday, the Dutch could already have qualified by then.
With Robben in outstanding form and Van Persie rested for one game, the Dutch team's likely campaign in the knockout rounds could be a long one, as Van Gaal aims for World Cup glory in Brazil.