The Netherlands maintained their perfect record at the 2014 World Cup with a tight 2-0 win over Chile in their final group game. The result means the Dutch win Group B, and so should have guaranteed themselves an easier fixture in the first knockout round. Chile, meanwhile, will likely face tournament hosts Brazil in the round of 16.
The game got off to a slow start, in what was more of a tight tactical battle than the high-tempo thriller we were expecting before kickoff. The Netherlands had clearly set out to stifle Chile first and foremost, and could frequently be seen in a flat defensive five. Louis van Gaal's plan wasn't pretty, though it certainly succeeded from open play. La Roja only really threatened through set-pieces in the opening half.
Their main dangerman was Felipe Gutiérrez, who flashed a low Alexis Sánchez corner just over the crossbar midway through the first half, before heading a Marcelo Díaz free kick wide when free in the penalty area on the stroke of halftime. Off the ball, Chile's pressing was characteristically excellent, denying the Dutch time on the ball. As a result, service to their isolated forwards was poor, and the Oranje's chances were few and far between.
Netherlands vs. Chile
Why the result matters
The Netherlands and Chile may have guaranteed their progression into the knockout stages, but their clash in São Paulo wan't without importance.
Netherlands vs. Chile
When they did come, the on-form attacker Arjen Robben was invariably involved. With 10 minutes of the half remaining he delivered a lethal free-kick into the penalty area for Stefan de Vrij, though the centre back nodded wide. Five minutes later, Robben charged straight towards the Chile goal from the halfway line, only to scuff his shot narrowly wide of the far post.
The second half picked up where the first had left off, with goal-scoring opportunities still at a premium. The Netherlands did seem to try and play with a little more possession than they did in the first half, though they continued to rely on Robben to cause problems. He again dribbled into a shooting position with just over 20 minutes remaining, only to fire his shot straight at Chilean keeper Claudio Bravo. Fortunately for the Oranje, Chile were equally impotent.
Their coach Jorge Sampaoli looked to shake things up with a tactical change with 20 minutes left, withdrawing centre back Francisco Silva for playmaker Jorge Valdívia and switching to a 4-3-3. However, he may have been regretting bringing off the tallest of his centre backs with just over 10 minutes remaining, when Dutch sub Leroy Fer latched onto Arjen Robben's free kick to head the Dutch into the lead.
A Chilean barrage ensued, with La Roja battling admirably to the end of the match. However, they left themselves exposed in stoppage time, with Robben charging forward into space and delivering a great cross for substitute Memphis Depay to tap in. The Netherlands' group win means they'll likely play either Croatia or Mexico in the round of 16, while Chile will probably have to do battle with hosts Brazil. All will be revealed when Group A reaches a climax later on Monday.
Netherlands: Cillessen; Blind, Vlaar, de Vrij; Kuyt (Kongolo 89'), Sneijder (Fer 75'), de Jong, Wijnaldum, Janmaat; Lens (Depay 69'), Robben.
Goals: Fer (77'), Depay (90+2').
Chile: Bravo; Jara, Medel, Silva (Valdívia 70'); Mena, Díaz, Gutiérrez (Beausejour 46'), Aránguiz, Isla; Vargas (Pinilla 81'), Sánchez