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. 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
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
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)