SAO PAULO — Two substitutes, two goals.
He sent on replacements Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay in the second half of the match against Chile on Monday and they scored both goals in a 2-0 win that confirmed the Dutch as Group B winners with a maximum nine points.
“It is luck,” Van Gaal himself said about his super substitutions. “Just luck.”
But it was more than that. Fer, listed by FIFA as 6 feet 2 inches (188 cm) tall, scored with a header a minute after coming on as a substitute for the 5-foot-6-inch (171 cm) Wesley Sneijder.
Then there was Depay.
Manchester United, which hired Van Gaal to restore its fortunes after a disastrous season by the club’s lofty standards, must be delighted even if it has to wait a bit longer for him to join them after the World Cup.
“I played the best team I had,” said Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli.
Juventus star Vidal had knee surgery before the tournament and had a sore Achilles tendon but said a day before the match he felt fit and ready to play.
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 was playing already-eliminated Cameroon later Monday and Mexico faced Croatia in the other match.