Leroy Fer scored a minute after coming on as a substitute to break the deadlock and help give the Netherlands a 2-0 victory over Chile on Monday and top Group B at the World Cup with three consecutive wins.
Arjen Robben of the Netherlands celebrates the team's first goal against Chile during their World Cup Group B match at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo. (Reuters Photo)
Fer had only just replaced Wesley Sneijder when he rose almost unmarked in the Chile penalty area to put the Dutch ahead with a powerful 77th-minute header. Another substitute, Memphis Depay, then tapped in a cross from Arjen Robben in injury time to double the lead.
Both teams had already advanced to the second round, but Chile's first loss of the tournament consigned it to second place in Group B.
The Dutch now travel to Fortaleza to play the Group A runner-up in the round of 16. Chile faces the Group A winner in Belo Horizonte.
Group A leader Brazil is playing already-eliminated Cameroon later on Monday and Mexico face Croatia in the other match.
Chile began with its trademark fast, attacking style while the Dutch, with a five-man defense, looked content to sit back, absorb the pressure and hope to break out with swift counterattacks.
Memphis Depay of the Netherlands (rear) kicks to score the team's second goal against Chile during their World Cup Group B match at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo. (Reuters Photo)
The strategy paid off handsomely.
Perhaps with an eye on the round of 16, Chile left midfielder Arturo Vidal on the bench. The Juventus star underwent knee surgery last month but started Chile's first two matches in Brazil and said before the match he was fit to play.
His absence deprived Chile of midfield creativity and it struggled to break down the well-drilled Dutch defense.
The Netherlands was playing without suspended captain and striker Robin van Persie and was also missing defender Bruno Martins Indi, who suffered a concussion in the team's last match, a tough 3-2 victory over Australia in Porto Alegre.
Netherlands' Stefan de Vrij heads the ball past Chile's Francisco Silva (C) during their Group B World Cup match at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo. (AP Photo)
Van Gaal pulled another tactical surprise with his starting lineup - reverting to the 5-3-2 formation he began with against Spain and posting veteran forward Dirk Kuyt at left back. Dynamo Kiev striker Jeremain Lens started in place of Van Persie.
It was the substitutes who made the difference late in the game when Fer scored almost with his first touch and Depay doubled his World Cup tally in stoppage time.
Highlights of the match