CAPE TOWN -
Netherlands continued their
impressive charge at the World Cup when they beat Cameroon 2-1
on Thursday to make it three wins out of three in Group E and
advance to a last 16 meeting with Slovakia.
Having won all eight qualifiers,
the Dutch, who have already
beaten Denmark and Japan here, became the first team since
Brazil in 1982 to win all their qualifying and group games.
GEAR: Get your Dutch shirt
They went into Thursday's match
already assured of progress
and secured top spot with goals by Robin van Persie and Klaas
Jan Huntelaar either side of a Samuel Eto'o penalty.
They also had the bonus of a
return to action for winger
Arjen Robben, who missed the first two games with a hamstring
problem but delivered a late cameo off the bench.
Nicely balanced throughout the
team, Netherlands have
qualified without ever needing to hit peak form and at present
are flying the flag as Europe's most impressive nation.
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However, it was something of a
mixed performance against
Cameroon as they started slowly, took control, were again pushed
back but finished strongly.
"In the first half I was relaxed but the second was very
mediocre, I thought Cameroon might score and we might even
lose," said Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk.
"Cameroon got a penalty and then
we woke up... this period
of negligence is something we cannot afford and today was a
lesson for the next match."
LE GUEN DEPARTS
Cameroon can hold their heads high
despite going home
pointless - their worst showing in six World Cups.
Paul Le Guen announced after the
game that, as expected, he
would not be continuing as their manager.
"Maybe I didn't succeed in
unifying the team," said the
Frenchman, who had to deal with player complaints about his
selections after the crippling opening defeat to Japan.
After a few nervous moments in
defence, Van Persie should
have put Netherlands ahead in the 19th minute when he chested
down a lovely 40-metre pass by Giovanni van Bronckhorst but shot
meekly at goalkeeper Hamidou Souleymanou.
However, the striker made sure in
the 36th when a quick-fire
one-two with Rafael van der Vaart put him through and he slotted
the ball into the net through the keeper's legs.
The goal settled the Dutch and
they began to fizz the ball
around sharply on Green Point stadium's high-speed surface.
Cameroon kept pressing though as
Eto'o, Landry Nguemo, Jean
Makoun and Aurelien Chedjou all had second-half chances.
Their pressure was rewarded when
Van der Vaart, jumping in
the wall, handled a Geremi free kick in the area and Eto'o
equalised with a 65th-minute penalty.
Robben came on in the 73rd minute
and, after looking lively
from his first touch, set up the winner when his 20-metre shot
rebounded from a post straight to substitute Huntelaar, who
sidefooted it back into the empty net.
"I'm really pleased he played for
20 minutes and nothing
happened (to the injury)," Van Marwijk said of Robben.
"I expect he can play longer at
the next match but I'm not
sure if he will start."
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