Netherlands vs Chile match report World Cup 2014: Netherlands finish top thanks to Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay

Netherlands 2 Chile 0

Arena Sao Paulo

He has been harrumphing through press conferences for the past two weeks, complaining about the Dutch nation’s lack of belief in the football system he has attached to the country’s name. But there was a sweet sense of justification for Louis van Gaal last night as his team smothered Chile’s threat and defeated them in a classic manifestation of counter-attacking football. They did all they could have done to avoid Brazil in the second round.

Three wins to take into that stage make them Europe’s stand-out side and one who are dangerous and organised, if not necessarily a group to take the breath away.

You put the last part of that assessment to Van Gaal at your peril, though, because there was some excellent evidence of what lies in wait for the Premier League, when Manchester United’s manager-in-waiting was asked about the lack of attacking ambition.

“That’s a striking question isn’t it?” he said, rounding on his questioner. “Could you give a definition of attacking football? That’s my question to you. You have such a clever question. Now give me an answer.”

 The indefatigable American inquisitor kept at it: “I’m just telling you what I saw.”

“If you are going to ask me, I’m going to ask you.” End of conversation.

It was also put to Van Gaal that his three World Cup wins and imminent new job must make him feel fine. “Manchester United has nothing whatsoever to do with this. If you look at my CV you will know I win a lot of matches,” he replied. So could he win the World Cup? “We will have to wait and see, I think…”

 

Van Gaal could afford to adopt this tone. The Netherlands defended badly against Australia last week and the manager immediately did something about it, reducing the South Americans to a shadow of the side that defeated Spain.

His post-match observation that he had sought to capitalise on the fact that Chile “always give away more space in the last 15 minutes” was borne out by the way the match was won. “We always analysed that in Chile. The cleverest team won the match,” Van Gaal said, and it was difficult to argue with that.

He also enjoyed the self-reflected glory of seeing both his substitutes score – the first of them less than two minutes after arriving on the field. Leroy Fer of Norwich City claimed the distinction of becoming the first player at that club to score at a World Cup finals when he leapt to navigate home a strong 77th minute header. PSV’s Memphis Depay wrapped things up.

Though Van Gaal insists that his 5-3-2 system is total football with different numbers, it was a cagey Dutch performance in the game which promised to offer the best sense yet of where the balance of power lay between Europe and South America.

The Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli was not happy. “We had the idea of winning,” he said. “That’s why we gave our all but could not find a solution to a team that only defended and only aspired to have long strikes and not counter-attacks.”

Van Gaal retorted: “I’m not really interested in what the national coach of Chile says, so I’m not going to comment on it.”

Sampaoli’s team had their moments in a first half they shaded. Felipe Gutierrez had two chances, the best of them after a rare escape from centre halves Ron Vlaar and Stefan de Vrij which left him unhindered to meet Marcelo Diaz’s lofted free-kick. He navigated his header over the bar. Vlaar and De Vrij were two of the game’s best players though, bettered only by Arjen Robben, who was in the same stratosphere that he has occupied throughout this World Cup. Robben bounced off Gonzalo Jara late in the first half, dropping a shoulder past Gary Medel and leaving Charles Aranguiz trailing as he shaped to shoot, dragged a left-foot shot narrowly wide.

If there is a problem for the Dutch as the tournament progresses, it may be the dependence on that 30-year-old, with Wesley Sneijder struggling to make any impression. Depay is some proposition, though. It was in the last 15 minutes that the Dutch delivered the final pieces of an impeccable performance of its kind. Depay had been on the field for two minutes when he added extra gusto, shooting for 20 yards and forcing Claudio Bravo to touch over.

Then Fer arrived on the field and was perfectly positioned to meet a ball that was recycled from the right which sailed over Vlaar’s head in a congested area, allowing him to meet it.

A good Chilean appeal for a De Vrij handball was turned down and the final Dutch knife between the shoulderblades – in injury time – was archetypal counter-attacking football. Daley Blind cleared high and long to Robben, who raced down the left and crossed for Depay to stab the ball home in the area.

“That’s luck. That’s luck. I know that Leroy can strike the ball well and really move forward,” Van Gaal said of his substitutions.

The Dutch reward for topping their group is an extra day’s rest before a second-round game in Fortlaeza. With Robin van Persie back into the ranks for that game on Sunday, they move forward with confidence – not a commodity their manager lacks.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003