Australia

Australia 2-3 The Netherlands: Holland hopes grow with second successive win

Holland just managed to overcome a determined Australia side 2-3 with goals from Arjen Robben, Robin Van Persie and Memphis Depay. The result looks to have all but eliminated Australia from the 2014 World Cup.

Flying Dutchman Arjen Robben opened the scoring when he drilled past Matthew Ryan inside the area following a fine solo run from the halfway line after 20 minutes.

Tim Cahill leveled for Australia with perhaps the goal of the tournament so far a minute later when he hit a superb volley inside the box that thundered past Jasper Cilessen and went in off the underside of the bar from Matthew Leckie’s cross.

Australia took a shock lead eight minutes into the second half from a Mile Jedinak penalty that was accurately slotted to Cilessen’s right, the Dutch Goalkeeper guessing the right way but it was out of reach. Leroy Fer’s handball was the cause of the spot kick.

Much like Australia in the first half, Holland hit back soon after conceding, five minutes after Jedinak’s penalty, Van Persie smashed home the equalizer following Depay’s neat pass. The goal could have easily been prevented but Jason Davidson switched off from Australia’s defensive line and played the Manchester United forward onside.

Depay won the match for Holland on 68 minutes when his swerving shot from distance squirmed under Ryan who really could have done better.

It came just seconds after the Socceroos had a chance to win the game for themselves. Tommy Oar was clean through on goal with the chance to shoot but instead opted to cross to Leckie who, off balance, headed straight at Cilessen with the goal gaping.

The Netherlands’ win came at a cost though, Bruno Martins Indi, who played admirably in the 1-5 demolition of Spain was stretchered off just before the break after a clash with Cahill, who received a booking for his trouble. Martins Indi now has a nervous wait to find out if he has a tournament future.

Chile 3-1 Australia

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A fancied Chile side secured a victory underdogs Australia to ensure a winning start to life in Group B although they were not as convincing as many would have expected. 

La Roja raced into a 2-0 lead with two goals in quick succession.

The first came after just 12 minutes when Eduardo Vargas’ header was deflected into the path of Barcelona man Alexis Sanchez who calmy opened the scoring although Matthew Ryan could have perhaps done better in the Australian goal. Charles Aranguiz supplied the original cross.

Chile doubled their lead soon after through when Jorge Valdivia curled home an effort when he was in acres of space thanks to an intelligent Vargas run that led all the Aussie defenders away from the pace of the game. Sanchez was causing trouble again down the right and it was his pass that set up Valdivia.

Australia looked down and out after just quarter of an hour but they did strike back ten minutes before the break when Tim Cahill beat Cardiff’s Gary Medel in the air to power home on of his trademark headers.

The Socceroos’ main goal threat caused panic in the Chile defense again straight after but his fierce shot was saved by Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.

Cahill thought he had level the scores eight minutes into the second period but a second header from him was correctly ruled out for offside.

Jean Beausejour finished the tie with a drilled shot from long distance after Ryan had cleared the ball away as Vargas surged on goal.

Mark Bresciano also came close with a volley from just inside the area but Bravo palmed it away comfortably.

Chile threatened in the second half themselves on the hour mark when Vargas squirmed a shot under Ryan but Alex Wilkinson covered well to clear it off the line.

World Cup Preview: Australia

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Not much is expected Australia this tournament but the boys from down under have surprised us before.

2006 was a successful summer for the Socceroos, unexpectedly making it through a group of Brazil, Japan and Croatia and then only being defeated by eventual winners Italy by a last minute Francesco Totti penalty in the last 16.

2010 was almost a similar story, only losing out on the second round by goal difference to Ghana who the Aussies drew with before defeating Serbia, a team many would have expected to finish ahead of Australia.

The omens do look good for 2014 but the group they are faced with does not. Being joined by holders Spain, the runners up Holland and promising side Chile make Australia appear as the group B whipping boys.

They are not helped by the fact they are forced to select two English third tier players in their final 23 man squad (Bailey Wright of Preston and Massimo Luongo of Swindon).

An injury to up and coming star Tom Rogic is unhelpful while star man Tim Cahill is the wrong side of 30, despite the two decent showings at the last two tournaments, 2014 could well be dismal.