Steely Dutch down Chile, avoid Brazil
A powerful and pacey Netherlands side beat Chile 2-0 on Monday in a game that only burst into life late on, securing them top spot in World Cup Group B and ensuring they avoid a tricky meeting with hosts Brazil in the last 16.
Substitute Leroy Fer scored with his first touch of the tournament, thumping home a close-range header in the 77th minute.
Another replacement, Memphis Depay, made it two in stoppage- time after a marauding Arjen Robben broke down the left, turning what had been a scrappy match short of goal-mouth action into a comfortable win for the Dutch.
The Netherlands, who will play Mexico in the next round, ended the group stage on a perfect nine points with Chile second on six. Outgoing champions Spain finished third on three points after beating Australia 3-0.
Chile, who next face Brazil, complained the Dutch team were unnecessarily negative, knowing a draw was enough to win the group.
"They ended up winning, but in my opinion it was unfair because I think Chile made a huge effort to attack," coach Jorge Sampaoli told reporters.
"We wanted to play and the Netherlands didn't."
But his Dutch counterpart Louis van Gaal said the end justified the means, having seen his players frustrate Chile and reduce them to a single shot on target all game, and that from a tight angle.
"You have got to develop a strategy that will let you win," he said, taking exception to a reporter's question about his tactics. "We are not giving much away and we are creating opportunities.
"This is being confirmed by the results, if it wasn't then you'd chop off my head, I'm sure of it."
Defense outshines attack
Man-of-the-match Robben said he was proud of the Dutch defense, an aspect of their play that has been overshadowed so far by a fearsome attack that had to do without Robin van Persie, who was suspended after receiving two yellow cards.
"It was a very good game to watch, there was a lot of passion on the pitch, we defended really well. I am proud of the way the team defended," Robben said in a television interview.
"I think we did a great job and this is not where we want to stop. It is a fantastic result and a fantastic performance and we don't want it to end here, we need to change our mindset as we want to move forward."