By: Jacob Singer
The Dutch closed the group stage of the World Cup with a victory over Cameroon. Robin van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored for the Oranje while Samuel Eto’o scored Cameroon’s lone goal on a penalty kick. Both teams knew their fate going into the match and played for pride. The result was an open game of football with physical play and a quick tempo.
One of the most telling statistics was possession; the previous games consisted of Holland exercising discipline and control, possessing the ball 61% of the time against Japan and 58% of the time against Denmark. In those opening matches they were
Photo from fOTOGLIF
playing to win, but knowing that they were to advance to the round of sixteen, the Dutch were riskier with their passes. As a result they played more of an open and attacking game of football. They risked possession but in returned earned many opportunities in the final third.
Van Persie scored in 36th minute. The play embodied Holland’s form of the beautiful game. The three players worked the ball up the right hand side of the pitch, sharply passed among each other, and the Arsenal striker nutmeged the ball between goalie’s legs for the first goal.
Cameroon’s lone goal came from a penalty kick as a result of a Rafael van der Vaart handball while defending a set piece. His arm went up and the ball caught his elbow. That was the only goal the Dutch allowed in the opening matches, but it’s worth mentioning that their defense looked shaky at times.
The second half saw two significant substitutions: Arjen Robben and Rigobert Song. Robben didn’t play in the first two matched of the World Cup due to a hamstring injury. For the last twenty minutes of the match he controlled the ball well but limited his pace. If fully fit, his return will give the Dutch a much needed boost along the right flank. As a substitute, Song stepped onto the pitch in his fourth World Cup and earned his 131 cap. As a long time captain of the Indomitable Lions, he has served his country well in international football.
The game winner came in the 83rd minute. A long-distance through ball found Robben in open space. Had he been fully fit, he would’ve taken it to the net. Instead he slowed the ball and dribbled it to the top of the goal box’s half-circle. There he ripped a shot at the goal which ricocheted off the left upright and into open space on the right side of the goal. There Huntelaar poached an easy game winner. On June 28th, Holland will face Slovakia in the round of sixteen.