CAPE TOWN - Just when the orange
juggernaut was threatening to falter, Arjen Robben flew to the
rescue, coming from the bench to set up the winner in
Netherlands' 2-1 victory over Cameroon on Thursday.
Robin van Persie's early goal seemed to have the Dutch
nicely on course for a third successive win but they were
hanging on somewhat after Samuel Eto'o equalised with a penalty
on 65 minutes.
Robben then entered the fray 17 minutes from time for his
first taste of tournament action after a hamstring strain and
promptly thumped a 20-metre shot against the post.
It rebounded perfectly for fellow substitute Klaas-Jan
Huntelaar to tuck in the 83rd-minute winner.
"It feels good to be back," Robben told reporters. "For me,
this was an important moment.
"This is what I have been working for. It has been a long
road and not a pleasant one."
Asked whether he was likely to be able to start the next
match against Slovakia, Robben said: "You have to be realistic
and honest to yourself. I know I can do better and that I am not
Coach Bert van Marwijk was also delighted to have his most
creative player available again. "I'm really pleased he played
for 20 minutes and nothing happened (to the injury)," he said.
"I expect he can play longer at the next match but I'm not
sure if he will start."
At one stage it looked as if Robben would not be needed as
the Dutch enjoyed a spell of sharp-passing dominance after Van
Persie shot the Dutch ahead.
However, they were forced to defend by a spirited Cameroon
and neither Robben nor his coach were fully satisfied.
"Sometimes there was a lack of concentration in our
passing," the winger said. "We can't make mistakes any more, we
can't afford that against big teams in the knockout stage."
Van Marwijk added: "In the first half I was relaxed but in
the second I thought Cameroon might score and we might even
"Cameroon got a penalty and then we woke up... We won, yes,
the first half was alright but the second was mediocre.
"This period of negligence is something we cannot afford. It
might be because everyone was afraid of being booked.
Nonetheless you saw these boys playing too carefully. Today was
a lesson for the next match."
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