The Netherlands moved to the brink of the FIFA World Cup knockout stages after defeating Australia 3-2 in an enthralling Group B contest.
Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie stole the show with a brace in the Netherlands’ 5-1 demolition of Spain in their opening game last week, and the duo once more took centre stage by scoring again in Porto Alegre on Wednesday.
Tim Cahill earlier cancelled out Robben’s opener with one of the greatest goals in World Cup history before a controversial penalty from Mile Jedinak nine minutes after the restart had Ange Postecoglou’s men dreaming of a famous upset.
However, Van Persie quickly quashed those hopes by levelling in the 58th minute with a neat finish inside the area.
And Memphis Depay – who had come on as a substitute for the injured Bruno Martins Indi – broke Australian hearts with a speculative effort that goalkeeper Mat Ryan will feel he should have kept out.
Louis van Gaal’s men can now become the first team to qualify for the round of 16 if Group B’s other match on Wednesday between holders Spain and Chile ends in victory for the latter or a draw. Australia, meanwhile, face a near impossible task to progress having lost both group games.
Robben’s third goal of the tournament in the 20th minute ensured the match exploded into life after a lacklustre opening.
The winger escaped the attention of Alex Wilkinson on the halfway line and surged into the box before drilling a low, angled shot into the bottom right-hand corner.
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