Daryl Janmaat was penalised for handball inside the box nine minutes into the second half, allowing Mile Jedinak to confidently put the Socceroos 2-1 ahead, but Holland launched a comeback of their own.
Robin van Persie equalised on 58 minutes, before Memphis Depay struck the winner from long range to secure Netherlands maximum points from their opening two games, while Australia remain without a point.
Below, Sports Mole analyses whether the result was reflective of the action in Porto Alegre.
On target: 4
Was the result fair?
Australia are highly unfortunate to have emerged pointless from their two opening games. The possession statistics show that they were not only in this game, but they gave Netherlands as good as they got and nobody could have begrudged the Socceroos a point at Estadio Beira-Rio.
They were the better team in the first half, and went behind against the run of play, although Robben's pace was simply too much against an inexperienced back four that would never have played against anything like him before. They prevented the Dutch from having sustained periods of possession with an incessantly intense pressing game, particularly high up the pitch against the three Holland centre-backs, which stretched Louis van Gaal's defence. Cahill's goal was an outstanding piece of technical execution more familiarly seen from internationals in orange shirts. Due to the height of the Netherlands back four, the Aussie talisman did not present the same aerial threat as usual, and therefore the wingers often used cutbacks to find men in the box. Only a couple of times did their final ball or finishing let them down, but that made all the difference in a game like today's.
They were nowhere near as good as when they put Spain to the sword last Friday, but Robben and Van Persie have now scored six goals between them and are clearly in the type of form that Holland will need their star individuals to be in, should they have ambitions of lifting the trophy. Having netted eight times in two games, there are no problems with their attacking play, with Daley Blind again a consistent source of delivery from the left, and substitute Depay an excellent dribbler to be used in an impact role. Their two problems seem to be keeping the ball under pressure in midfield, with neither Nigel de Jong or Jonathan de Guzman the best passers, and in defence, where a potentially tournament-ending injury to Bruno Martins Indi will do them no favours.
Sports Mole's man of the match
Arjen Robben: Scored another superb individual goal, a 50-yard run and calm finish, and had the Aussie defenders retreating all night with his pace and dribbling skills. He appears to be in such good touch, though, that he often wants to do it all on his own, but, in fairness, he has had the end product so far at this World Cup. The Bayern Munich winger is almost untouchable in this form.
It is perhaps harsh to highlight what were by no means absolute clangers by a couple of members of the Australian back four, but they did prove to be costly errors. Jason Davidson played Van Persie onside for Holland's equaliser, while goalkeeper Mat Ryan should have done better with Depay's winner.
This tournament has been marred already by some poor officiating, and Djamel Haimoudi did not have a particularly good game today. Janmaat's handball for Australia's penalty was certainly not deliberate, but Van Persie's elbow on Matthew Spiranovic might have been. The Manchester United man only saw yellow, and then was let off completely for a late tackle on Jedinak in the second half. Elsewhere, Algerian referee Haimoudi was easily fooled by some theatrical playacting that both countries were guilty of committing.
Australia: Despite their best efforts, they are very likely to be going home next week. They must hope that Chile lose to Spain on Friday, and then beat the champions to stand any chance of going through.
Netherlands: The Dutch could have already qualified for the knockout stages by the time they play Chile in their final group game next Monday, which they will be eager to win to avoid a possible clash with Brazil.