When it comes to the World Cup, the unexpected is routine and few things comes easily. Anyone needing confirmation of those facts can consult the first two games played by the Netherlands in Brazil.
Just days after dismantling defending champion Spain, the Dutch barely overcame Australia, 3-2, in a tense Group B match in Porto Alegre on Wednesday. The Socceroos, the lowest-ranked team at the World Cup, grabbed a shock 2-1 lead after the Netherlands conceded a controversial penalty early in the second half. In the 53rd minute, midfielder Daryl Janmaat was whistled for a hand ball in the penalty area after the ball struck his forearm as he defended against a cross from Australia's Oliver Bozanic. After the official pointed to the penalty spot, Australia midfielder Mile Jedinak delivered a go-ahead goal.
(GIF via @FlyByKnite)
The lead would be short-lived as Robin Van Persie produced an equalizer just minutes later. While this strike wasn't as memorable as his soaring header against Spain, it was of crucial importance in the thriller unfolding at Estadio Beira-Rio. The goals by RVP and Jedniak provided the second two-goal flurry of the day, following a breathtaking exchange between Arjen Robben and Tim Cahill that produced the 1-1 score at halftime.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 18, 2014
Before Cahill's stunning left footed volley, the match appeared to be going according to script. In the 20th minute, Robben produced an early 1-0 lead for the favored Dutch with a left-footed finish following a signature run on goal.
In the 68th minute, the Netherlands produced a score that Australia was unable to answer. Memphis Depay, a replacement for the injured Bruno Martins Indi just before halftime, beat Australia goalkeeper Maty Ryan with a low, swerving right-footed shot from outside the penalty area.