Porto Alegre, Brazil: Brazil 2014`s scintillating show of attacking football continued with the much fancied Netherlands defeating World Cup minnows Australia 3-2 in an incredible group match to virtually book a second round berth here Wednesday.
The way the Netherlands overran Spain the other day, it looked like the Australians would be blowned away by the Dutch in the first World Cup match between the two sides.
But the Group B match at Estadio Beira-Rio saw none of it and fortunes fluctuated between the two sides throughout the gripping 90 minutes with the Australians producing a gutsy performance belying the expectations from them.
Australia, the lowest FIFA ranking team among the 32 participants, refused to be cowed down by the reputation of the Dutch, who were the last edition losing finalists and who had just ripped to shreds defending champions Spain 5-1.
Instead, the Socceroos hold their own and at one stage took the lead around the hour mark. For a moment, it looked like Australia will tear apart the form book and pre-tournament predictions by upsetting the Dutch.
It ultimately boiled down to the difference in class between the two sides that decided the outcome of the match with the Dutch far ahead in that aspect.
With today`s loss, their second after the 1-3 defeat at the hands of Chile, Australia are now virtually out of the tournament. The Dutch, on the other hand, are virtually through to the round of 16 after their 5-1 humiliation of Spain.
Arjen Robben, who scored two goals against Spain and mesmerised the defending champions` defence, put the Netherlands ahead in the 20th minute only to be restored parity by a stunning Tim Cahill goal next minute with perhaps the best goal of the tournament so far.
Australia stunningly took the lead in the 54th minute with captain Mile Jedinak converting from the spot after Daryl Janmaat handled the ball inside the box.
But within four minutes, Robin van Persie (58th) put the match on level terms with a left-footed finish after he was set in the clear by Robben inside the Australian box.
Second half substitute Memphis Depay then ended the Australian dreams by scoring the winner in the 68th minute.
There was nothing to separate the two sides at the end of the first half and they matched each other in every aspect, shot by shot and in ball possession.
It was again the indefatigable Robben who put the Dutch ahead in the 20th minute by tearing apart the Australian defence with his pacy run, just like he had done against the likes of Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique of Spain.
The 30-year-old Bayern Munich player outran two defenders after collecting the ball from the centre of the field before drilling a perfect left-footed grounder to the left of Maty Ryan's goal.
Robben's strike, however, did not lead to the opening of the floodgates for his side, but on the contrary, Australia replied with a bang within less than a minute with veteran Tim Cahill equalising with a spectacular left-footed volley which left Dutch keeper Jasper Cillessen without any chance.
The second half was even more fascinating with the two sides giving not any inch to each other.
It was Australia who actually went ahead through a penalty kick conversion in the 54th minute.
Oliver Bozanic, who came in as substitute in the 51st minute, made an instant impact within two minutes as his attempted cross was blocked by Janmaat's hand and the referee pointed to the dreaded spot.
Jedinak coolly dispatched the penalty to the goalkeeper's right, sending him the wrong way.
But the Dutch made a swift turnaround with van Persie scoring his third goal of the tournament in the 58th minute. Jason Davidson played van Persie onside inside the Australia box and the Manchester United striker made no mistake, slamming the ball into the roof of the net.
20-year-old Memphis Depay then scored the winner, his first international goal for the Netherlands, in the 68th minute to send the Australians crashing out of the tournament.
Australia will also be without Cahill in the final group match against Spain as he received his second yellow card today.