Durban: Arjen Robben made his return to the Dutch XI by scoring an emphatic goal to help Dutch defeat Slovakia 2-1 in their round of 16 clash in Durban.
Slovakia started off positively as Erik Jendrisek came up with an effort only two minutes into the game, but his shot was over the bar. The Dutch then started to come forward with Van Persie and Wesley Sneijder both coming up with good chances before Robben made his mark and opened up the account for the Dutch. The
Bayern Munich winger outpaced Radoslav Zabavnik in the right flank, cut inside and fired low inside the near post, beating goalkeeper Jan Mucha. Though Mucha could have come up with a better effort to deny the goal. It was only the second first-half goal scored by the Netherlands in South Africa.
Towards the end of the first half, Van Persie made a promising
cut to surprise the Slovakia defense, in the end he just managed to
hit a tame shot to towards Mucha who had no problems collecting the
As second half resumed Robben was once again at the thick of action as Van Persie dragged the Slovakia defense out of position, the ball fell kindly for Bayern Munich star and he hit a low-shot towards the goal but Mucha managed to deny him, making a fingertip save.
Slovakia then came up with a close chance as Miroslav Stoch hit a shot which was tipped over by Netherlands goalkeeper. Just seconds later Robert Vittek got a golden chance to level the scores. He had enough space and time to make his shot but he just managed to hit it straight to the palms of Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
Sneijder doubled the lead for the Dutch as he was fed with a low cross by Dirk Kuyt. In the dying minutes seconds of stoppage time, Vittek managed to pull one goal back for Slovakia but it was too late.
Netherlands will now face Brazil in the quarter-finals in Port Elizabeth on Friday.