The Netherlands scored twice inside the final 15 minutes to overcome a resilient Chile team on Monday, and the 2-0 victory is enough to finish at the top of Group B at the 2014 World Cup.
The match was a close affair for a long time, as the Dutch only needed a draw to finish ahead of the Chileans on goal difference. Louis van Gaal fielded a relatively defensive unit, and two late goals from Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay added some extra shine to a strong performance.
Arjen Robben was once again the standout performer, as shared by The Independent's Ian Herbert:
Whatever LVG claims later, it's a defensive display from #ned and their 5-man defence. Vlaar and De Vrij class. Robben in a class of his own— ian herbert (@ianherbs) June 23, 2014
The winger-turned-striker used his pace and trickery to keep the Chilean defence occupied, not allowing the centre-backs to play the ball forward comfortably.
He capped off his great performance with a late assist for the second goal, and The Guardian's Amy Lawrence thinks the Dutchman is among the early front-runners to win the Player of the Tournament award:
There is some serious competition in this WC but Robben might just be the standout individual so far. Flashes of brilliance in all 3 games.— Amy Lawrence (@amylawrence71) June 23, 2014
Selecao Brasileira echoed that statement:
Incredible this Robben. By far the tournament's best player, 'as of now'.— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStats) June 23, 2014
Robben's tendency to find his own shot reared its ugly head at times during the first half, leading to this rather elaborate joke from Teju Cole:
A restaurant somewhere in Brazil. Two men in orange suits dining together. J. LENS: Kindly pass the salt. A. ROBBEN: No!— Teju Cole (@tejucole) June 23, 2014
The winger also performed a handful of spectacular dives, leading to this comparison by Nick Coppack:
The game was tied at 0-0 when Van Gaal introduced youngster Fer, and this Dutch fan straight away pointed out he has a tendency for scoring headed goals:
Leroy Fer about to come on. Has a great record of headed goals from set-pieces in Oranje U21.— Stephan (@FootballGogme) June 23, 2014
Via Football Vines, only two minutes had passed when this happened:
Leroy Fer gives Netherlands the lead http://t.co/CWDAFrOQjK— Football Vines (@FootballVines) June 23, 2014
ESPN's John Brewin was impressed by the Norwich City player's vertical ability:
Leroy Fer rose like a Canary. #NEDvCHI— John Brewin (@JohnBrewinESPN) June 23, 2014
As WhoScored.com noted, Fer literally scored the opening goal with his very first touch:
Leroy Fer: After not scoring for club or country since December 2013, Fer has scored with his first touch of the game vs Chile #ned— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) June 23, 2014
OptaFranz added a little stat of its own:
Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe couldn't help but notice how the goal was made by the excellent movement of Ron Vlaar:
Finally, The World Cup just had to make their case for lamest pun of the day:
Leroy Fer jumped so high I thought he'd Netherland #NED— The World Cup (@_theworldcup) June 23, 2014
With the win, the Netherlands will most likely avoid a round of 16 date against hosts Brazil, who will play Cameroon later on Monday. The Brazilians have yet to truly impress during the 2014 World Cup, but given their incredibly talented group of players, they are the one team to avoid during the knockout stages.
Chile and Brazil have a bit of history on the pitch, the Brazilians often responsible for ending a Chilean World Cup run in the past. Jorge Sampaoli will be looking forward to getting some revenge on the hosts, but it won't be an easy task.
The Dutch will most likely take on the winner of the match between Mexico and Croatia in the next round, and with three wins from three matches, they have to feel good about their chances of making it to the quarter-finals.