Day 7 of the 2014 World Cup was an important day, as it featured the first teams eliminated as well as a couple of squads securing bids to the knockout stage.
The biggest surprise so far was the second loss in as many matches for Spain. It still has one match left, but it has no chance of advancing to the next round, ensuring that there will be no repeat for the defending World Cup champion.
Meanwhile, Australia and Cameroon were also officially eliminated from contention after losses.
The day was much better for Chile and the Netherlands, two squads that have punched their tickets to the round of 16. These teams were the big winners in an exciting day in Brazil.
FIFA.com, Through June 18
Day 7 Recap
Netherlands 3, Australia 2
After the Netherlands thoroughly dominated Spain in its first match, most expected another easy victory against Australia. The problem is that the Socceroos came to play.
Arjen Robben scored the first goal of the match in the 20th minute to give the Dutch the 1-0 lead, but it only took about a minute for Australia to answer with one of the best goals you will ever see by Tim Cahill:
Mile Jedinak then helped give the underdog the lead when he scored on a penalty shot after a handball in the 54th minute. This time, it was Robin van Persie who answered with the equalizer four minutes later for the Netherlands.
Memphis Depay finally put the Dutch on top for good in the 68th minute with a long shot to make it 3-2, sending them into the next round with six points.
Despite the loss, Australia had to be proud of an impressive showing against one of the better squads in the world. Craig Foster of the Sun Herald was one of many who had positives things to say after the loss:
Everything expected. Devastating to lose. Australia grew today in football. WOBDERFUL moment, showed the world some football #SBSWorldCup— Craig Foster (@Craig_Foster) June 18, 2014
Head coach Ange Postecoglou described his disappointment that his side could not come away with points in the match, via Ray Gatt of The Australian:
I just wanted the players to get the reward for the way they went about things today. I have put a lot of pressure on the players and the staff that we are going to be a certain type of team and take it to world class opposition, but it is one thing saying it and another thing doing it.
They did that today but didn't get their reward. It's heartbreaking and massively disappointing.
Although this will not mean much for the players now, they will certainly go into the next international competition with plenty of confidence to compete on the big stage.
Meanwhile, it is clear that the Dutch are once again top contenders to bring home a title in Brazil.
Chile 2, Spain 0
Coming into the tournament, Chile was seen as a sleeper team that could maybe upset the Netherlands for a spot in the knockout stage. However, few believed it would be able to overcome the depth of Spain.
The South American squad proved all doubters wrong with a thorough beating of Spain for all 90 minutes of this match.
Eduardo Vargas scored the first goal of the match in the 19th minute on a fantastic team effort that included perfect passes from multiple sources. This continues an impressive trend for the forward, who was the best player on the pitch, according to ESPN:
Chile then added to the lead just before halftime when Charles Aranguiz kicked in a rebound after an Alexis Sanchez free kick, making it 2-0 going into intermission.
In the second half, Spain seemed to have little interest in working its way back into the match. When it did get opportunities in the final third, it wasted them with poor shots.
This ends an incredible run by the Spanish squad over the last three major tournaments, as noted by Bleacher Report UK:
The fact that it has allowed more goals in the past two matches than in those 19 previous matches is truly incredible. Of course, a lot of credit has to go to Chile, which played spectacular in the win. Sid Lowe of The Guardian described the action:
By the way, how much fun is it to watch Chile? Brilliant, exhilarating.— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) June 18, 2014
While Spain was eliminated, Chile has secured a spot in the next round and will clearly be a tough team to beat for the rest of this tournament.
Croatia 4, Cameroon 0
In need of a win, Croatia had little trouble coming through with a dominant performance against Cameroon in the final match of the day.
The European squad did a great job of moving the ball early to get onto the scoresheet in the 11th minute with an Ivica Olic goal.
While Cameroon was set to have a difficult time getting back into the match no matter what happened, the path was even tougher when midfielder Alex Song picked up a red card at the end of the first half, as noted by Nate Scott of USA Today:
As a result, Croatia was able to easily make plays beyond the 10-man lineup in the second half and built up the score to 4-0. Former player Ned Zelic noted the lack of challenge for the eventual winner:
Croatia are absolutely strolling through Cameroon's back zero. #CROvsCMR— Ned Zelic (@NedZelic) June 18, 2014
This loss will officially eliminate Cameroon from the tournament with one match still to play, a reasonable result considering it has been outscored 5-0 in two matches.
Meanwhile, Croatia sets up an exciting matchup in its last group-stage match against Mexico. Assuming Brazil takes care of business against Cameroon, a win will likely be necessary to get into the next round.
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