Sports

Inexperienced Dutch defense holding up well enough to extend World Cup winning streak to 4

  • Netherlands' Arjen Robben celebrates after the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and Mexico at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil, Sunday, June 29, 2014. The Netherlands won the match 2-1. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    Netherlands' Arjen Robben celebrates after the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and Mexico at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil, Sunday, June 29, 2014. The Netherlands won the match 2-1. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)  (The Associated Press)

  • Dutch players celebrate after the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and Mexico at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil, Sunday, June 29, 2014. The Netherlands won the match 2-1.  (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

    Dutch players celebrate after the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and Mexico at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil, Sunday, June 29, 2014. The Netherlands won the match 2-1. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)  (The Associated Press)

The inexperienced Dutch defense looked to be the weak link coming into the World Cup. So far, though, it's holding up well enough to keep the team winning.

Again showing he is not afraid to make changes, Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal gave defender Paul Verhaegh only his third international appearance against Mexico in the second round, replacing Daryl Janmaat at right back.

The Augsburg player struggled early against pacey Mexico wingback Miguel Layun on Sunday, but the Netherlands' defense conceded only one goal and its lethal front line came to the rescue late to salvage a 2-1 victory.

Much of the credit goes to Van Gaal's savvy tactical switches in the second half, which took the pressure off the back line and got the Dutch going forward.