The Netherlands

Brazil 0-3 The Netherlands: Dutch delight while hosts limp to fourth placed finish

The Netherlands finished the 2014 World Cup as the third best team thanks to a 0-3 win over hosts Brazil with goals from Robin Van Persie, Daley Blind and Georginio Wijnaldum.

Van Persie’s second minute penalty gave the Netherlands the lead in the traditional tournament match that many consider a dead rubber as Brazil’s hangover from their Semi Final thrashing continued to linger.

Arjen Robben was fouled by Thiago Silva in an incident that appeared to occur outside the box but one thing that was certain was that the Brazil Captain should have seen red for the second time this summer as he was the last man.

He was only shown a yellow card however and Van Persie dispatched the resulting spot-kick past a despondent Julio Cesar.

Silva’s new Paris Saint-Germain teammate David Luiz’s poor from continued when he headed Jonathan De Guzman’s cross into the path of Blind who calmly slotted home a second for the Dutch on 17 minutes.

2002 Champions Brazil conceded their tenth goal in two games when Daryl Janmaat’s low cross was diverted past Cesar’s near post by Wijnaldum.

Ramires came closest for Brazil when he shot wide just before the hour mark after leaving Ron Vlaar in his wake.

Oscar thought he had won a penalty for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s dejected squad but was booked for simulation. The Chelsea man knocked the ball past Blind and the two clashed knees but the referee Djamel Haimoudi of Algeria indicated there was no wrongdoing.

Blind himself was carried off injured following the clash.

Like most other matches involving Holland this World Cup, Robben believed he was due a penalty, this time after being tugged by Fernandinho but the referee said no again.

Louis Van Gaal diminished the importance of the third place playoff game before kick-off but will have little qualms with his side finishing in the football equivalent of a bronze medal place as he embarks on his forthcoming Manchester United career.

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The Netherlands 2-1 Mexico

Two late goals from Wesley Sneijder and Klaas Jan Huntelaar provided Dutch delight as Holland reached the last eight with a 2-1 win over Mexico.

Louis Van Gaal’s exciting side sealed the win deep into added time when Huntelaar converted a penalty won by Arjen Robben. The player of the tournament contender was fouled by Rafael Marquez but with minimal contact. Robben showing the other meaning to his “Flying Dutchman” nickname.

Ex-Tottenham midfielder Giovanni Dos Santos provided the opener for the Mexicans three minutes into the second half with a long distance half volley that gave Jasper Cillessen no chance in the Holland goal.

Sneijder equalized for the Netherlands with an equally impressive half volley, Robben’s corner was headed back by substitute Huntelaar into the path of the Galatasaray play-maker who let the ball bounce before smashing it past Guillermo Ochoa and in with two minutes left on the clock.

On what was ultimately a sad day for Mexico, Goalkeeper Ochoa provided one shining light for El Tri, another superb performance from him to illustrate further his credentials as being named the ‘keeper of this World Cup.

His highlight being when he magnificently kept out a Stefan de Vrij header that he tipped onto the bar and out from point blank range.

It is Holland who go onto the Quarter Finals however and they will meet the victor of Costa Rica and Greece.

 

Cameroon 1-4 Brazil: Brilliant Brazil bound for second round

Neymar

Hosts Brazil cemented their spot as group winners with a comfortable 1-4 win over pointless Cameroon. A brace from Neymar along with one each from Fred and Fernandinho set up a round 2 meeting with Chile.

Neymar gave Brazil the lead in Brasilia when he side footed Luiz Gustavo’s cross first time past Charles Intandje who had no chance

The face of the tournament doubled his tally with 35 minutes played when he dribbled past some Cameroon defenders and finished past Intandje with style again, sending him the wrong way with an accurate finish.

Fred sealed the win with a close range header from David Luiz’s cross five minutes into the second half to kill off Cameroon’s hopes of a shock.

Cameroon had infact leveled the scores nine minutes after going behind with Joel Matip tapping home his first goal for the Indomitable Lions, turning home Allan Nyom’s squared pass.

Neymar had chances to get a third for Brazil, no closer when his volley was palmed out and away by former Liverpool Goalkeeper Intandje with 20 minutes played.

He never did get his illusive hat-trick though and was replaced by Willian in the closing stages as a precaution for the latter stages of the competition.

A neat passing move provided the fourth and final goal for Brazil.  After they capitalized on a poor free-kick from Cameroon, Oscar fed Fernandinho who gave it to Fred, to Oscar, and then back to Fernandinho around the edge of the box and the Manchester City play-maker tucked it in first time for 1-4.

Elsewhere in Group A, Mexico defeated Croatia 1-3 with goals from Rafael Marquez, Andres Guardado and Javier Hernandez which sets up a last 16 tie with Group B winners The Netherlands.

Change needed for England? Again?

Following what looks to be England’s latest failing at a major tournament, there are yet again calls for major overhaul.

After the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where England crashed out in the last 16 with a 4-1 hammering by rivals Germany, the Three Lions were encouraged to base their style on the tiki-taka of Spain who went on to win the coveted trophy.

St George’s Park was built with this philosophy grained into it and the effects have been predicted to come to fruition for the Qatar World Cup in 2022.

The problem now however is that tiki-taka looks tiki-toast after Spain themselves were dumped out the group stages this summer by The Netherlands and Chile.

To Roy Hodgson’s credit, England did play the positive attacking football in their opener against Italy and were arguably the better side but Uruguay was a different story as static, nervous England seemed to be back as the pressure looked to have got to them.

England need to create their own identity, possibly starting with a new Captain.

Steven Gerrard has come into particular light as the 34-year-old has probably waved goodbye to the World Cup due to his age and it did not end on a high, his header setting up Liverpool teammate Luis Suarez’s winner to all but send England home.

Liverpool’s iconic hero has been a loyal servant to his country with some fantastic highs including scoring the equalizer in England’s famous 1-5 win over Germany in 2001, scoring a brilliant goal against Trinidad and Tobago at World Cup 2006 and of course his crucial World Cup qualifying goals against the likes of Croatia for 2010 and Poland for 2014.

Along with this though, he has had his lows including a dodgy back-pass at Euro 2004 against France which led to Thierry Henry being fouled for Zinedine Zidane’s winning penalty as well as the Uruguay gaffe.

If Gerrard is replaced, either by choice through International retirement, or by force as Hodgson continues to build for the future, who could replace him?

Joe Hart: The England goalkeeper would be a popular choice among fans as he is one of few England players who has a safe spot in Hodgson’s starting eleven.

Two time Premiership winner with Manchester City, Hart, has established himself as England’s number one after Robert Green’s high profile error against the United States at the last World Cup and then number two David James has since retired.

Hart is a known leader on the pitch, often seen barking instructions from his penalty box and is refreshingly honest in interviews, something that adheres to England supporters as he is one of very few players who embodies himself among fans as “one of them”.

It is a myth that England players do not care about their national side as much as the fans but Hart is a rare example of someone who truly proves this. Perfect Captain material.

Wearing his Hart on his shoulder: England's number one.

Wearing his Hart on his sleeve: England’s number one.

Gary Cahill: John Terry’s partner in the heart of Chelsea’s defense is starting to emerge from the former England Captain’s shadow.

Since joining Stamford Bridge from Bolton in 2012, Cahill has blossomed working with Terry and has picked up plenty more England caps to boot as he ‘s built up a solid partnership with Everton’s Phil Jagielka.

Along with this, Cahill has similar personality traits to his colleague such as on-pitch leadership and an equally similar playing style. The 28-year-old is often seen putting his body on the line for his team much like Terry (“Superman” dive vs Slovenia esque) in true English lion-heart style, something the Three Lions have missed since Terry’s acrimonious departure from the national fold.

Another positive of Cahill’s, he also does not come with the baggage of John Terry with his personal life stories of affairs and racist allegations.

New kid on the block: Cahill dives in-front of a shot.

New kid on the block: Cahill dives in-front of a shot.

Wayne Rooney: Expected to be the bookies and media favourite to replace Gerrard. The England poster boy is undoubtedly the star man.

94 caps and 40 goals would be an impressive return by anyone’s standard but the main criticism of “Wazza” is that he does not turn up on the big stage.

The Manchester United forward, 28, has only scored six goals in major tournaments (four at Euro 2004 where he was just 18, one at Euro 2012 which was a header from two yards against Ukraine, and his leveler against Uruguay) – his first World Cup goal at the third attempt.

Criticism of his attitude would also be a harm to him, frequent contract issues with his club where he seems to be constantly demanding more money does not portray him in a good light.

Many also believe that we have never seen what Rooney is truly capable of, citing that if he had more drive and determination he could have been one of the best players in the world, possibly even ever.

Rooney’s rant into a camera following a 0-0 draw with Algeria at the last World Cup will also live long in the memory of many an England supporter. “Nice to see your home fans boo you, that’s what loyal support is”, is not a sentence that endears you to fans well.

Despite all this though, Rooney is still seen as the man to lead England. Why? Because he is England’s best player and, after all, isn’t that what the Captain should be?

Wayne's World: England's next captain?

Wayne’s World: England’s next captain?

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.