Sneijder’s sizzler helps Dutch beat Japan to top Group EJune 19th, 2010 - 8:43 pm ICT by IANS
Durban, June 19 (DPA) The Netherlands made it two wins from two games in Group E at the football World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Japan here Saturday.
The Dutch got the winner in the 53rd minutes when Wesley Sneijder’s powerful drive from the edge of the area beat Eiji Kawashima in the Japanese goal in Durban.
The Netherlands top the group ahead of Cameroon’s match with Denmark later Saturday in Pretoria.
“We wanted to win the game. Japan played very defensively. We didn’t expect that. We thought they would be more of an attacking side. It required a lot of patience,” said Dutch midfielder Mark van Bonmmel.
Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk made no changes from the team that beat Denmark, once again leaving Arjen Robben on the bench despite the player having recovered from his hamstring injury.
Van Marwijk’s counterpart Takeshi Okada also fielded an unchanged side with Asian player of the year Yasuhito Endo and CSKA Moscow forward Keisuke Honda looking to inspire the group outsiders to another shock win.
Sneijder was first to go close with a free-kick in the ninth minutes and Yuto Nagatomo then flashed a shot just wide for Japan in the 12th minute.
The tackles were flying in but thankfully Argentine refere Hector Baldassi kept his cards in his pocket in stark contrast to Alberto Undiano the Spanish referee who ruined Germany’s clash with Serbia 24-hours earlier.
The amnesty was broken however in the 36th minute when Gregory Van der Wiel went in late on Daisuke Matsui and earned the match’s first and only booking.
Matsui it was who then went close for Japan with a shot that was well held by Maarten Stekelenburg three minutes later. And Honda blasted a free-kick over as Japan finished the first half strongly.
The Netherlands had the first chance of the second half when Robie van Persie headed Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s cross goalwards but saw Eiji Kawashima make the save.
The Arsenal man then made contact with a long up-field punt but his effort from the edge of the six-yard box was well wide. The Dutch were looking more dangerous and they took the lead in the 53rd minute.
Van Bronckhorst crossed from the left and when Van Persie failed to control the ball it was cleared to edge of the area where Sneijder was lurking.
The Inter Milan midfielder rifled his shot towards Kawashima’s right hand corner and although the Japanese keeper got a hand to the ball he could only deflect it into the other corner.
Japan pressed for the equaliser and Uki Abe got his head to an Endo free-kick but Stekelenburg gathered comfortably. Shunsuke Nakamura came on for Matsui and Japan forced two corners in quick succession.
The Netherlands replaced Van der Vaart with Eljero Elia and Ibrahim Afellay came on for scorer Sneijder. The PSV Eindhoven midfielder could have made it two but he delayed his shot too long and the ball was smothered by Kawashima.
The substitute then lost another one-on-one with the Japanese keeper as the Dutch had the chances to put the result beyond doubt and they so nearly paid the price when Okazaki had the chance to level right in the 90th minute but blazed over from close range.
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