Aussie can?

Yesterday's game between Australia and the Netherlands was very interesting.  It didn't appear likely to be; it looked like the Dutch would hold the ball, and hold the ball, and hold the ball, and the Aussies (pronounced "ozzies", I just found out) would get crushed.

But for the first seventeen minutes, not only were the Aussies not crushed, but they were actually dominating.  In that time, the Orange only got within striking distance of the goal once, where Robben had a rare bad touch to kill the chance.  But mostly the Aussies had the ball, and they were working it down and occasionally threatening.  And when the Dutch had it, the Aussies forced them off the ball quickly.

Nothing dramatic happened in the 17th, but possession started evening out quite a bit, then.

And it only took until the twentieth minute for the Dutch to score, on a play that was almost all Robben.  He took the ball around midfield, and ran it all the way down, shaded a bit towards the left side, and didn't let a defender get in his way.  When he got within about eight yards, he shot it across to the far side, and the goalie couldn't react in time.

But it took less than ten seconds from the ensuing kickoff for Australia to equalize.  The kickoff was put across to the right side, only a little downfield, and a serve was put into the box on the far side, about ten yards from the touch line.  Cahill took the serve and, on the full volley, hammered it into the crossbar where it deflected down into the goal.  A solid contender for goal of the tournament; the only competitor, so far, is van Persie's header in the opener.

From there, the Dutch continued to mostly control possession (it was up to 51% netherlands by the 25th minute), but it wasn't like the Aussies were helpless.  One thing I did wonder about was the non-calls against McGowan on Australian throw-ins on the right side.  Every single one (save the one that only went ~5 yds) had serious spin on it, but no call.

But that was how play went for quite a long while.  The deadlock, though, was actually broken by Australia; an Aussie shot was blocked by a Dutch hand in the box.  I was surprised the call was made, however, as the hand was behind the player's back, and he seemed to be trying to raise it out of the way when contact was made.  But the call was made, and Jedinak was the seventh in a row to convert a PK at this World Cup.

But Australia's advantage didn't last long, either, as van Persie snuck behind the defense (not sure if it was a failed offside trap, but two forwards were allowed behind), and had time to corral the ball and kick it past the keeper.

From there, the Dutch had a very solid advantage in play, but nine minutes later, the Aussies had a great chance.  Bad Dutch turnover in the box, two forwards vs one defender, they made the correct play, but the goaltender stopped the shot (the placement of the pass across wasn't good; the shot was a deflection off the chest).

The Dutch then counterattacked, and Memphis put a wild shot past the goalkeeper down under.  It was just a long, hard, curving shot that bounced (with a lot of top-spin) through the 'tender's hands and in.

And with that, went Australia's chances of winning and having a chance to move on.  They played out the string, but they didn't even seriously threaten after that.

It was a bit of a downer for what had been a rousing game up to that point.

So the Dutch move on, the Aussies don't, and van Persie and Cahill will both miss the third game from accumulated yellow cards.  I think the Dutch don't mind that, as it guarantees his availability for the knock-out, but the Wallabees will miss Cahill's presence as they play Spain for pride.

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