Durban: Wesley Sneijder found the only goal past Japan defense to help Netherlands win 1-0 in a Group E clash, and to take the Dutch one step closer to second round qualification.
Sneidjer scored the goal in the 53rd minute. His strike deceived the Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima who misjudged the flight of the ball completely and could only deflect the ball in the back of the net.
Coming into the match, Japan had managed to beat Cameroon in their first game. They had declared that they would frustrate their opponents with their defense and they would also go for attack if they got the opportunity to do so. The Dutch on the other hand had won against Denmark in their opening game.
In the first 45 minutes, the Dutch team looked completely unimpressive as they were not able to find any rhythm in their play and looked dull.
Though they had good amount of possession they were not able to find the final ball, the final touch. They mustered only three shots and goal and only one was on target.
In the second half, the Dutch side came out firing with Robin Van Persie getting good early chances. In the 53rd minute finally Sneijder found the opening breakthrough after Van Persie slipped a ball on the edge of the box and Sneijder was able to convert it into a goal.
With one goal down, Japan seemed to open up more and opened up the game. Towards the end Dutch substitute Ibrahim Afellay got a golden chance to seal the match for Netherlands but Kawashima was quick on his feet to got down quickly and managed to smother the shot.
The Dutch will face Cameroon next in their final group match, whereas Japan will face against Denmark in their final match.