In one of the most entertaining games of the tournament, the Netherlands produced the seventh come-from-behind win of the World Cup so far, rallying for a 3-2 win over Australia, who had themselves come from a goal down to take a 2-1 lead early in the second half on Wednesday.
With the win, the Netherlands move to 2-0 on the tournament and will await the result of Wednesday's second game to find out if they will qualify for the Round of 16 prior to the final round of group games.
The New York Red Bulls' Tim Cahill scored one of the best goals of the tournament with a left-footed volley to tie the game early in the first half, but he also received his second yellow card of the tournament and will be suspended for Australia's final group game, against Spain. Dutch star Robin van Persie scored the second Dutch goal but also received his second yellow card of the World Cup and will miss the Netherlands' group finale against Chile.
THE HANGOVER: The Netherlands looked brilliant against Spain in their first match, but Wednesday was a different story. They were sloppy in possession and inaccurate in their passing for most of the game, leaving Australia at liberty to dictate possession and tempo, before the Dutch turned it on late. Whether it was because they didn’t expect the Socceroos to put up a fight or because they were still thinking about their rout of Spain, the Oranje looked out of sorts.
DIE HARD: Australia came out of the blocks on Wednesday ready to take the match to the Netherlands, and they largely succeeded, making it that much harder to swallow when they allowed a 2-1 lead to slip away. Though they have not yet been mathematically eliminated, they will need serious help to make it out of the group stage.
WORLD CLASS: Cahill knows how to score goals – he had 11 in MLS last season – but sweet merciful God, Captain Australia’s 21st-minute strike was an absolute thunderbolt. After you pick your jaw up off the floor, the only question left to ask is whether Cahill’s strike unseats van Persie’s first against Spain as “Goal of the Tournament.”
LETHAL INTENT: There’s no question that Australia can be a tough out, but there’s also no question that the Netherlands have more individual quality. It showed. As badly as the Dutch played for most of this game, they were deadly when they got a look at goal. Whether it was Mathew Leckie’s 68th-minute chest shot or Mark Bresciano’s 31st-minute chance that sailed over the bar, Australia just did not take advantage of their opportunities the same way their opponents did.
MISSING IN ACTION: Both Australia and the Netherlands suffered casualties on Wednesday. Cahill and van Persie will miss their teams’ next matches due to yellow-card accumulation, and the Netherlands will likely be without center back Bruno Martins Indi, who had to come off the field at the end of the first half on a stretcher.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Memphis Depay, Netherlands -- In just 45 minutes after replacing Martins Indi (Louis van Gaal switched the Netherlands from a 5-3-2 to a 4-3-3 with the sub), Depay assisted on the Oranje’s equalizer and scored the winning goal, even if Mathew Ryan should have done better on Depay’s long-range strike.