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Van Persie proud of Dutch progress

Written by: Staff

STUTTGART, June 16 (Reuters) Dutch goalscorer Robin van Persie said his team had received their reward for hard work and were proud of their achievement in reaching the last 16 of the World Cup.

''We worked hard. We played well at times, we should be proud that we reached the next round,'' said Van Persie after the 2-1 win over Ivory Coast in Group C today but the Dutch into the last 16 with Argentina.

''My goal was fantastic for us all.'' The Dutch took a 2-0 lead through Van Persie and Ruud van Nistelrooy before Bakary Kone pulled a goal back for Ivory Coast in an entertaining first half.

''We started very well in the first half, after that it became difficult. In the second half we could only defend ourselves,'' Dutch coach Marco van Basten said, praising the West African newcomers.

''We'll take it step by step, we'll see how it goes against Argentina,'' Van Basten adding, referring to the match to settle who takes top spot in Group C.

Midfielder Mark van Bommel was more critical.

''Until leading 2-0 we had played well, then we lost it,'' said Van Bommel.

''We played badly but...we have to learn from it. Ivory Coast were strong opponents. They were always dangerous.'' REUTERS DH RAI0043

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