Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Round of 16. Match 5: Netherlands 2-1 Slovakia

As most people including myself had commented - this match would depend on whether the Slovakia who played Italy would turn up or whether it would be the average one who played against Paraguay. The answer was that it was something in the middle. Or perhaps it was the one that would have played like they did against Italy, if it wasn't for the fact that the Netherlands had their tactics sussed and were able to impose their own game far more than Italy did.

The Netherlands created the best opportunities. Sneijder was in great form and Robben was everywhere with his jinking runs and crosses. Robben also scored a fantastic opening goal as he received a pass from Sneijder, advanced to the corner of the box and powered in a beautiful, low left foot shot. The Dutch defence for the most part stood firm, ably assisted by defensive midfielders De Jong and van Bommel.

It was no way a vintage performance from the Dutch and they never appeared to hit top gear. There was always the impression that the Dutch still hadn't hit great form yet. But they were effective in their win. The second goal after a goalkeeping blooper sealed the victory but there was still time in the dying seconds for Stekelenburg to upend Jakubko, and Vittek to slot home the resulting penalty. It was a moment of poor judgement for the keeper who had earlier made two quality stops from Stoch and Vittek.

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