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"The intellectualisation
of football has
always foundered
on a simple problem-
-the players. Doing
all your most
rewarding thinking
with your feet seems
to dull the philo-
sophical impulse.
Unless, of course,
you are Dutch.
According to legend,
Europeans played
a moronic, muscular
version of the world's
game, until Holland
proclaimed its vision
of total football in the
1974 World Cup,
and enlightenment
dawned."

From:
Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football
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Holland beat Slovakia and go through

Monday, 28 June 2010

Arjen Robben celebrating his first goal of the tournament

For the first time since 1998 Holland have progressed to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Goals of Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, and a late penalty of Robert Vittek Holland beat the tough Slovaks 2-1. Holland will play either Brazil or Chile on Friday in Port Elizabeth.

Coming on a substitute against Cameroon he showed a brief glimpse of his class, but in his first game in the starting lineup Arjen Robben proved that he is world class act, and just how important he is for this Dutch team.

With a trademark run Robben opened the score 17th minute. Robben was off and running when Sneijder dispossessed Hamisk in the Dutch half. The Bayern striker picked up the ball on the 20 yard line on the right of the pitch. With Robin van Persie making a great run from the center of the park into the corner and occupying the minds of both defenders minding Robben could cut inside and lash a low shot into the bottom corner: 1-0.

With his goal Robben proved manager Bert van Marwijk right. The Holland boss surprised many when he announced the winger would be in the starting lineup. After his short spell against Cameroon most followers had expected Robben to come off the bench. But Van Marwijk argued that with a possible overtime in mind to start Robben would be better. "If we go into extra time I may have to take him off again," and thus spoil a substitute. Because of Robben starting Dirk Kuyt replaced Rafael van der Vaart on the left.

With Robben Holland looked threatening when they were going forward, although it was clear that he didn't play full force. But even then Robben can decide games. Holland sat back and waited for a quick corner. That didn't do the entertainment value of the game any good, but in the first half Holland gave away nothing to the struggling Slovaks.

In the second half Holland's laid back tactics almost cost them dearly. Miscommunication in the center of defense forced Maarten Stekelenburg to safe his team on efforts by Stoch and Vittek. That was after Robben - again with a trademark run - and Mathijsen could have decided the game.

Holland didn't and that is why the Slovaks came mighty close to to an equalizer in the 67th and 69th minute. Both times Stekelenburg did what he's there for. They seemed to be a wakeup call for the Dutch team, who showed a bit more urgency up front after Huntelaar came on for Van Persie and Elia replaced Robben.

It was Huntelaar who won a free kick on the middle line, Van Bronckhorst who took it quickly and Kuyt who did well to connect to it, round goal keeper Mucha and square it for Sneijder around the penalty spot: 2-0.

Seconds from the final whistle Vittek pulled one back, but as the goal scorer rushed to get the ball the Spanish referee said it was all over. Holland are through to the quarter final and will be watching tonight's game between Brazil and Chile with great interest, as the winner of that game is the next opponent on Friday in Port Elizabeth.

Netherlands-Slovakia 2-1

Goals

18' A. Robben 1-0
84' W. Sneijder 2-0
2-1 90' R. Vittek

Cards

32' A. Robben  
  40' J. Kucka
  72' K. Kopunek
  84' M. Skrtel
90' + 2 M. Stekelenburg  

Lineups

J. Mucha  
G. van der Wiel   J. Durica  
J. Heitinga   M. Skrtel  
J. Mathijsen   P. Pekarík  
G. van Bronckhorst   R. Zabavnik 88' M. Jakubko
M. van Bommel   J. Kucka  
N. de Jong   M. Hamsik 87' M. Sapara
W. Sneijder 90' I. Afellay V. Weiss  
A. Robben 71' E. Elia E. Jendrisek 72' K. Kopunek
D. Kuyt   M. Stoch  
R. van Persie 80' K. Huntelaar R. Vittek  

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