Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder fired Netherlands into the World Cup quarterfinals after a comfortable 2-1 win over Slovakia in the second round on Monday.
Winger Robben, making his first start in South Africa after suffering a hamstring injury, rifled home a solo effort after 18 minutes to give the Dutch the lead, before Sneijder wrapped it up six minutes from the end.
Slovakia, who last week sent holders Italy packing with a 3-2 upset, got a consolation with the last kick of the game when Robert Vittek scored from the penalty spot.
“That was nice today. If you're at the World Cup it should be fun. We didn't play our best match today but the important thing is that we advanced,”
Robben said. “The most important thing for me is to play my first match. It's only three weeks after the injury. That's not a lot of time. Today I felt good, maybe not 100 percent but I felt good.”
“I think we've got to improve for the quarterfinals," added Robben. In his 71 minutes on the pitch, the winger was at the heart of all of the most threatening moves from a Dutch team who had otherwise looked as devoid of flair as they had when grinding out three wins in their group matches.
He scored the first when Sneijder's superb long ball out of defence gave him room to run at the Slovaks, and he sprinted towards goal before cutting inside two defenders outside the penalty area and drilling a left-footed shot into the corner of Jan Mucha's net.
Robben nearly scored a second goal from a similar position at the start of the second half but this time Mucha got a hand to the ball to send it around the post. Slovakia had few opportunities and couldn’t convert. any. The game was as good as over in the 84th minute when Kuyt beat Mucha to the ball and he squared to Sneijder to sidefoot into an empty net from the penalty spot.