Amsterdam — They entered the fray to Latino music and singing and left having won yet more hearts. For three quarters of this sold out, anticipated one-way stroll for the world champions, Chile simply dared to dream.
Further, a six-goal win would have even seen them top of the group. No chance of that happening, of course. But, at 1-1, this spirited, wise Chilean team were certainly spoiling the party.
The Dutch had last dropped points in a World Cup group stage back in 2006, a winning run of 13 games. In the end, it took the experienced head of Eva de Goede, with an unstoppable backhand across goal to deny Chile’s brilliant goalkeeper, Claudia Schuler, and Sergio Vigil’s compact side a last-gasp equaliser.
In truth, the Olympic champions had outclassed the Chileans over 60 minutes despite lacking their usual clinical circle finishing.
But when a team manages to halt the Dutch bandwagon, one dared to dream. Especially if it’s the world No 15 amateur side.
But the Netherlands duly confirmed their five days off and a last eight place and could even face the Devils again. Chile now play Belgium in the cross-overs, the winners facing the Dutch on July 12.
Lidewij Welten, tapping in, had given the hosts the lead on 13 minutes before Francisca Tala was able to poke in, barely believing her luck, eight minutes later for the equaliser.
Yibbi Jansen restored order six minutes on from a short, before Chile staved off further threats as Schuler parried and gloved away Dutch shots.
Then came a Dutch great to send the 10,000 Oranje home happy. De Goede latched on to a Chilean stick error eight minutes from time, taking a few steps into the D, finding space going wide and, with perfect poise, sending her reverse across Schuler.
For Vigil and his brave troops, this was yet another step forwards.
They are one win away from an incredible last eight spot, perhaps dreaming of playing in a Terrassa climate they are more than used to.