The top 10 matches of Brazil 2014

Willie Grace | 7/17/2014, 6:18 p.m. | Updated on 7/17/2014, 6:18 p.m.
It has been a thrilling ride, from Neymar inspiring Brazil to victory over Croatia in the opening game, the Netherlands ...

It had all started so well. Xabi Alonso fired home a penalty to give Spain the lead and David Silva came close to adding a second only for Jasper Cillessen to make a fine save in the Dutch goal.

But just before the break it all began to go wrong.

There appeared little danger when Daley Blind took up possession on the left but his fine cross picked out Robin van Persie, who leaped like a flying salmon to head the ball over the stranded Iker Casillas and into the empty net.

It was a magnificent header, a goal worthy of winning any game, let alone an equalizer.

What followed was astonishing, as the Dutch blew their opponents away in one of the most one-sided halves of football the World Cup has ever seen.

Arjen Robben, who missed a golden chance to put the Netherlands ahead in the 2010 final, fired home a second before Stefan de Vrij made it 3-1.

Casillas then failed to control a backpass and van Persie took advantage to fire home his second.

There was still time for Robben to add a fifth as Spain's defense was left decimated -- and the dominant force in world football of recent times was on the road to an embarrassing group-stage exit from the tournament.

3) Australia 2-3 Netherlands

It was one of the most memorable moments of the tournament -- and it came from a man who will surely go down as one of Australia's greatest footballers.

Trailing 1-0 to the Dutch following Robben's strike, Tim Cahill equalized just minutes later with an incredible strike.

Ryan McGowan produced the perfect cross and Cahill met the cross first time with an exquisite volley which flew off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.

It was a goal which could be compared to Marco van Basten's magnificent strike at the 1988 European Championships which is still replayed over and over to this day.

The 34-year-old Cahill has scored five goals across three World Cups -- the most by an Australian.

Australia, beaten in its opening game by Chile, then took a shock lead when Mile Jedinak fired home a hotly-contested penalty kick nine minutes after the break.

But the Dutch roared back with van Persie netting an equalizer before substitute Memphis Depay struck the winner.

4) Brazil 2-1 Colombia

It was billed as the battle between two golden boys -- Neymar against Colombia's James Rodriguez.

But it was heartbreak for both following a pulsating encounter in which the myth of Brazil's beautiful game was finally extinguished.

Thiago Silva's early goal gave Brazil the lead in the quarterfinal before a rasping free kick by the captain's central defensive partner David Luiz made it 2-0 to the host nation.

Neymar, who had cut a peripheral figure for most of the night, was then forced off with a back injury following a foul by Carlos Zuniga.

The fractured vertebra would rule the home hero out of the rest of the tournament and deny Brazil any real chance of winning the title.