Scoring his fifth-ever World Cup goal, Tim Cahill gave Australia huge hope before they eventually fell to a 3-2 defeat against the Netherlands in what was a thrilling Group B encounter. A strike that will go down as one of the best goals ever scored at a World Cup finals, Cahill once more got the opportunity to whip out his iconic corner-flag celebration routine. With the ball being fired in instinctively by Matthew Leckie, the 34-year-old Australian hero only had a moment or two to react, and he did so quickest of all to fire the ball majestically past the flailing Jasper Cillesen, off the crossbar and over the line. Despite the fact that Australia go home empty-handed yet again, Cahill will always have the memory of scoring such an iconic goal – and although it’s, perhaps, an overly-romantic way to view the strike considering the final result, it’s likely Ange Postecoglou’s players will have their sights focused on the future. And while Cahill might not be a part of the set-up for much longer considering his age, one thing he will leave behind is the legacy of putting it up to the best players in the business – not once did he pull out of a challenge or hold back in his efforts and that’s something the young players will take away from the whole experience.
The old adage goes that form is temporary and class is permanent, and perhaps there was a grain of truth in that when looking at Wednesday evening’s clash. With Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben and Mephis Depay grabbing the goals, there weren’t many surprises on the scoresheet – although it was surprising in the order they scored them as well as how long it took for the Dutch to find their rhythm. Following on from their huge, headline-dominating win against Spain last week, it wouldn’t have been hugely surprising had Louis van Gaal’s troops hammered yet more goals past the Aussies. But they soon found out just how up for the match their opponents were as they were left sweating on the final result – especially when they conceded a Mile Jedinak penalty. The Oranje eventually found their rhythm, and when they took the lead began to look a tad more comfortable on the offensive. However, their 5-1 thumping of the Spanish seems to have had a somewhat negative effect on their mentality – after all, there’s such a thing as peaking too early, and if they’re not careful they might end up becoming too complacent. Their fans will hope the closely contested encounter with the Aussies will act as a warning.
The undisputed match of the tournament so far, spectators were treated to end-to-end stuff as both sides did their best to spring a fixture filled with talking points. A hallmark of this World Cup so far has been one of entertainment and joy as there’s been more than enough quality on show. It all begs the question – when will the boring clashes kick in to effect? No doubt, many will hope the drama continues just as it did in midweek for this match as well as for the majority of the other fixtures, but with Australia, the lowest ranked team in the competition, now likely on their way out it’s up to minnows such as Costa Rica, Honduras and others to rise to the occasion. Of course, the Wallabies still have one more clash left against Spain – a match that might just offer them one final chance to prove themselves and finally upset the odds.
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