RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) ― No one can argue that the Netherlands coach, Louis van Gaal, isn’t earning his salary.
The Dutch are have recovered from 1-0 down to win three times in Brazil, and four of the seven goals the Oranje have scored over the past three games have come from van Gaal’s second-half substitutes.
“Our strength this World Cup is that we have shown that everyone from the bench can have a big impact on the game. Everyone is sharp,” says forward Arjen Robben.
Striker Klaas Van Huntelaar epitomized that depth in the Round-of-16 game against Mexico. In his 21-minute cameo appearance, he set up Wesley Sneijder’s equalizer in the 88th minute and then scored the winning goal from the penalty spot two minutes later.
Fellow forward Memphis Depay set the tone for such an impact in the Netherlands’ second group game against Australia. Van Gaal sent the 20-year-old on for the second half and watched him provide an assist for captain Robin van Persie’s equalizing goal, before tucking away the winner himself.
Van Gaal can also point with some satisfaction to the final group game against Chile, in which two of his substitutes scored the game’s only goals.
“We have a very good fighting spirit,” Sneijder said. “Right up until the last minute yesterday (against Mexico) we had no doubt we would win.”