Day 12 of the 2014 World Cup put the finishing touches on the two groups that kicked off the tournament over a week ago.
The Netherlands needed a win or a draw against Chile to keep its place at the pinnacle of Group B, and two late goals from Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay were enough to ensure the Oranje came out on top 2-0 over Chile.
Chile was competitive throughout the match, but the Dutch never stopped pouring men forward in attack. Louis van Gaal's swashbuckling side got the go-ahead goal thanks to a strong header from Fer in the 77th minute.
Arjen Robben continued to prove he's one of the most dangerous forwards at the World Cup, capping off the Dutch triumph with a blistering run and cross to Depay for the game-sealing tap-in.
Spain beat Australia 3-0 in the lame-duck match of the day, as neither team had any chance of moving on from the group stages. David Villa scored in his final game for La Furia Roja, while Fernando Torres and Juan Mata joined him on the scoresheet with second-half goals of their own.
Sky Sports' Guillem Balague lamented the end of an era in Spanish football:
And that was that... A sad but eternal thank you to our Roja @SeFutbol— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) June 23, 2014
Spain will have to regroup after this World Cup, but the country has plenty of depth to carry on the winning tradition that began with players such as Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Villa.
Mexico soundly defeated Croatia 3-1 to clinch a place in the knockout stages. Rafael Marquez, Andres Guardado and Javier Hernandez scored the crucial goals for El Tri.
Hernandez scored a particularly important goal from a personal standpoint, as ESPN FC points out:
Mexico should be ecstatic Chicharito broke his scoreless streak before the round of 16, as El Tri will have to try to keep up with the high-scoring Netherlands and its utter contempt for boring soccer.
Mexico kept the pressure on Croatia despite the big lead in a desperate attempt to catch Brazil on goal differential and finish first in Group A.
The host nation would have none of it. Neymar scored a first-half brace to put the world on notice, and Fred and Fernandinho scored second-half goals to keep Brazil atop Group A in a 4-1 demolition of Cameroon. Neymar scored a particularly historic goal in the match, courtesy of ESPN FC:
WATCH: Neymar now has more goals for Brazil than Ronaldinho and Jairzinho, and as many as Rivaldo (34). He's 22 » http://t.co/tbxgT7hp7t— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 23, 2014
Brazil will now take on South American rival Chile in what should be an exciting clash featuring a wealth of attractive play.
Here are the scores from Day 12 and the updated group standings for the entire World Cup.
|B||Netherlands vs. Chile||NED 2-0 CHI|
|B||Australia vs. Spain||AUS 0-3 ESP|
|A||Cameroon vs. Brazil||CMR 1-4 BRA|
|A||Croatia vs. Mexico||CRO 1-3 MEX|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||2||0||0||2||-2||0|
Day 13 Preview
Tuesday will feature the epic conclusions of Groups C and D in the 2014 World Cup.
Costa Rica and Colombia are already through to the next round, but they will look to hold on to first place in their respective groups.
England will be looking to get revenge against Costa Rica, which knocked the Three Lions out of World Cup with its victory against Italy.
Italy and Uruguay will battle for the right to join Costa Rica in the round of 16. Italy coach Cesare Prandelli may pair striker Ciro Immobile with Mario Balotelli against Uruguay. As per The Associated Press (via Fox News), Prandelli believes Immobile is a "modern forward who knows how to attack deep."
As Goal.com's Carlo Garganese notes, Immobile and Balotelli will have to become fast friends leading the line:
The two forwards are Balotelli and Immobile – who’ve never played together before & have only had a couple of practice sessions to prepare— Carlo Garganese (@carlogarganese) June 23, 2014
Ivory Coast takes on Greece, who have yet to score in this tournament. The Mediterranean side will be without captain Kostas Katsouranis; he drew a red card in Greece's 0-0 draw with Japan.
Ivory Coast will be looking for a win or a draw to stay ahead of Japan in Group C and move on to the knockout round for the first time. Coach Sabri Lamouchi believes his team won't need to alter much to beat Greece. Via The Guardian's Andy Hunter:
We didn't deserve to lose to Colombia. We made a few untimely errors and paid a heavy price. I'm not going to get too carried away with what went on. There are only some small things to iron out ahead of the next game.
Japan needs to keep up with Colombia's surprisingly potent attack in order to move on to the knockout round.
The Samurai Blue couldn't break down a 10-man Greece team despite enjoying the majority of possession and launching 18 shots, as per WhoScored.com. Keisuke Honda will have to carry his team to victory; he is the team's lone goalscorer in the 2014 World Cup so far.