Netherlands put foot in knockout runs, but run hard by Australia
This really is the World Cup that just keeps on giving – Day 7 exploded into life when the Netherlands, fresh off smashing Spain, took on Australia in an exhilarating encounter.
Arjen Robben continued his fine form when he put the Dutch in front after just 20 minutes, going on a mazy run and finishing into the bottom corner. But just a minute later, Australia’s Tim Cahill scored arguably the tournament’s best goal so far, smashing the ball in off the underside of the bar to draw parity for his country.
An explosive first half ended 1-1, and both teams took to the second half with just as much intensity as the first had.
Mile Jedinak converted a penalty after a hand ball in the Dutch box to give the Aussies a surprise lead, but only four minutes later and the match was levelled again – this time from the red-hot Robin Van Persie. Substitute Memphis Depay completed the comeback when he scored to give the Dutch their second win of the tournament.
This result seals progression for the Dutch, and it was looking ominous for Spain, who needed to beat Chile to have any reasonable chance at making it out of the group.
Incredible Chile dump out reigning champions
Spain’s heavy 5-1 defeat from the Netherlands came as the shock of the tournament, and left Spain in a dangerous position coming into this match – fail to beat Chile and their World Cup would be in jeopardy.
Chile came in with their own motives, knowing that a win over the Spaniards would secure their progression to the round-of-16. With both teams having it all to play for, this game was set up to be a cracker; it did not disappoint.
Right from the off, the Chileans swarmed their opponents every time they were on the ball. Spain are the most proficient team in the world when they can hold onto the ball, and Chile’s game plan was evidently to stop that.
It definitely worked. Just 20 minutes into the match and the pressure from Chile paid off – Spain coughed up the ball in a dangerous position, and a brilliant play resulted in Chilean forward Vargas slotting the ball past a stranded Iker Casillas (yet again).
The halftime whistle signaled the end of a first half that Chile dominated. Spain looked dumbstruck; for the second time this World Cup, their invincible tiki-taka philosophy was being undone.
And the second half brought no solace for the reigning world champions. Chile were tenacious as ever, harrying Spain off the ball and winning back possession in dangerous areas.
Eventually, the hard work resulted in a second Chilean goal – Alexis Sanchez, again fantastic, fired in a free kick that Casillas punched back into the path of Aranguiz, who fired in the rebound to add to Spanish woes.
The game finished 2-0 to Chile, and the end of an era was there for all to see. Spain, reigning World and Euro Cup champions, dumped out after only two matches.
A shocking turn of events, but in a World Cup this unpredictable, it only adds to the magic. Incredible.
Croatia triumph to keep heat on Mexico
Mexico’s 0-0 draw with Brazil left Group A darkhorse Croatia in a precarious position – fail to best Cameroon, and they would be facing an extremely difficult battle to stay in this World Cup.
And so Croatia started the match in the way they had to – gunning for the victory. Their approach paid dividends only minutes into the game, when veteran striker Ivica Olic turned in a knockdown from teammate Ivan Perisic to give his country an early lead.
Things turned sour for Cameroon when one of their few star players, midfielder Alex Song, was sent off five minutes from the half time whistle. A second half comeback for Cameroon was looking less and less likely by the second.
Perisic turned from provider to goalscorer when he turned in a goal to double Croatia’s lead early on the second half, and returning striker Mario Mandzukic added another shortly after to all but seal the victory. Mandzukic added to his tally with a simple finish to make the final score Croatia 4-0 Cameroon.
The result means that Croatia can guarantee progression with a victory over Mexico, but the wide margin of victory means that even a draw could be enough if Brazil lose to Cameroon.
Defending champions are out, welcome a new winner
Day 7 saw the defending champions Spain eliminated, which mean that this year a new face will be crowned. What a shock for the tournament, but what an opportunity for another nation. An era of Spanish dominance has ended, and a new champion will rise. Who will it be?