WORLD CUP: Holland edge out Japan in dour encounter

Holland struggled to break down an obdurate Japan team but a fine strike from Wesley Sneijder saw the Dutch clinch a narrow 1-0 victory.
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Holland struggled to break down an obdurate Japan team but a fine strike from Wesley Sneijder saw the Dutch clinch a narrow 1-0 victory.

Holland: 1
Japan: 0

Venue: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

Crowd: 62,010

Referee: Hector Baldassi (Argentina)
Assistants: Ricardo Casas and Hernan Maidana (Argentina)
Fourth official: Martin Hansson (Sweden)

Yellow cards: HOL - Van Der Wiel JAP - None

Red cards: None

MATCH REPORT

Holland have now won both their group games, but as with their opening encounter against Denmark the manner of victory was more functional than inspiring.

The Dutch struggles against the massed defensive ranks of a Japan team who clearly set their stall out not to get beat. For all their early pressure Holland failed to test keeper Eiji Kawashima.

Japan looked showed promise on their rare forays forward and in the 10th minute full-back Yuto Nagatomo flashed a shot narrowly wide.

But for the most part the slow pace of the game enabled Japan to quickly stifle any Dutch attacks.

Sneijder and Robin van Persie had half chances but overall the first half was devoid of much excitement with game badly needing a goal to bring it to life.

The Dutch got the early goal required in the 48th minute when a mixture of the Jabulani and some dodgy keeping allowed Sneijder to collect a loose ball just outside the penalty area and rifle in a fierce shot which Kawashima could only help on its way into goal as he dived the wrong way.

This brought Japan out of their defensive shell and whilst they looked dangerous it was not until the 90th minute that they were presented with the clearest chance of the game.

Substitute Shinji Okazaki chased the ball into the penalty area but with a clear sight of goal he blazed over without testing keeper Stekelenburg.

For Holland they are now 21 games unbeaten and whilst they have still to hit the heights in South Africa they now have six points and are almost certain to progress to the knockout stages.

Starting Line-Ups

HOL

1. Maarten Stekelenburg
2. Gregory Van Der Wiel
3. Johnny Heitinga
4. Joris Mathijsen
5. Giovanni Van Bronckhorst
7. Dirk Kuyt
6. Mark Van Bommel
8. Nigel De Jong
23. Rafael Van der Vaart (Elia, 72)
10. Wesley Sneijder (Afellay, 82)
9. Robin van Persie (Huntelaar, 87)

SUBS

16. Michel Vorm (GK)
11. Arjen Robben
12. Khalid Boulahrouz
13. Andre Ooijer
14. Demy De Zeeuw
15. Edson Braafheid
17. Eljero Elia
18. Stijn Schaars
19. Ryan Babel
20. Ibrahim Afellay
21. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
22. Sander Boschker (GK)

JAP

21. Eiji Kawashima
5. Yuto Nagatomo
22. Yuji Nakazawa
4. Marcus Tanaka
3. Yuichi Komano
17. Makoto Hasebe
8. Daisuke Matsui (Nakamura, 64)
2. Yuki Abe
7. Yasuhito Endo (Okazaki, 77)
16. Yoshito Okubo (Tamada, 77)
18. Keisuke Honda

SUBS

1. Seigo Narazaki (GK)
6. Atsuto Uchida
9. Shinji Okazaki
10. Shunsuke Nakamura
11. Keiji Tamada
12. Kisho Yano
13. Daiki Iwamasa
14. Kengo Nakamura
15. Yasuyuki Konno
19. Takayuki Morimoto
20. Junichi Inamoto
23. Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (GK)

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