By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Holland all but confirmed their passage to the World Cup knock-out stages with a 3-2 win over Australia at the Estádio Beira-Rio this afternoon (June 18th). In a hugely entertaining game the Dutch won their second successive group game, following last week’s 5-1 demolition over current world champions Spain.
Arjen Robben fired Holland into the lead with a solo run and finish after nineteen minutes with his third goal of the tournament so far. But Australia were behind for just a minute, levelling through Tim Cahill’s exquisite dipping volley.
Straight from the kick-off, McGowan’s chipped angled pass fell perfectly for Cahill to strike first time, finding the back of the net via the underside of the crossbar. The magnificent strike drew comparisons with Marco van Basten’s volley for Holland at the 1988 European Championships.
Mark Bresciano spurned a golden opportunity to give Australia the lead just minutes later as the underdogs cranked up the pressure. Unmarked in the penalty area, he blazed over with the whole goal to aim at.
But after the interval, Mile Jedinak put Australia ahead nine minutes into the second half from the penalty spot after the referee judged Daryll Janmatt had handled inside the area. But Holland fought back, with goals from Robin van Persie and a swerving long-range strike from substitute Memphis Depay to seal the points in front of 42,877 fans.
Australia now need a miracle to progress after suffering two successive defeats, but gave Holland a far tougher test than Spain managed on Friday. But the Dutch attacking trio of Wesley Sneijder, Robben and van Persie was ultimately too powerful for the Socceroos.
Holland’s next engagement is with Chile on Monday at the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo. They will however have to make do without talisman van Persie, who is suspended after picking up his second yellow card of the competition.
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