Even a soccer-watching neophyte could detect which team would accept a draw and which craved a win in Group B's biggest showdown Monday.
With both sides assured of passage to the
The Dutch began inserting defensive-oriented players in the second half. One of them, midfielder Leroy Fer, pulled off a textbook header that provided a goal his team ultimately did not need in a 2-0 victory.
Most of the Dutch chances came on the counter-attack. The strategy finally produced a score in stoppage time with a cross by the consistently outstanding Arjen Robben to Memphis Depay for a tap-in.
The sides had combined for 13 goals in their previous matches, but the Cup points system induced the potent Dutch to switch to less eye-pleasing tactics. They yielded ball possession to Chile by a 2-to-1 margin. Another factor for their defensive posture was the absence of the suspended Robin van Persie, who had scored thrice.
Incentive to win the group was driven by a desire to avoid the host team as opening opponent in the knockout portion. If form plays out, Chile would face projected Group A winner Brazil.
In B's other match, which had no bearing on the points race, Spain salvaged a scintilla of joy from a disastrous tournament by trouncing Australia, 3-0.
The Spanish swapped out more than half of the lineup that had let them down in two losses. Monday's initial goal-getter was, at once, a new starter and a trusty old hand -- David Villa, 32, the national team's career goals leader.