Venue Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban Ref. H. Baldassi Att: 62010
Starting Line up
Netherlands: 1-Maarten Stekelenburg; 2-Gregory van der Wiel, 3-John Heitinga, 4-Joris Mathijsen, 5-Giovanni van Bronckhorst; 7-Dirk Kuyt, 6-Mark van Bommel, 10-Wesley Sneijder (Afellay, 82), 8-Nigel de Jong, 23-Rafael van der Vaart (Elia, 72); 9-Robin van Persie (87, Huntelaar).
Japan: 21-Eiji Kawashima; 2-Yuki Abe, 22-Yuji Nakazawa, 4-Tulio, 3-Yuichi Komano; 5-Yuto Nagatomo, 16-Yoshito Okubo (Tamada, 77), 7-Yasuhito Endo, 17-Makoto Hasebe (Okazaki, 77), 8-Daisuke Matsui (Nakamura, 64); 18-Keisuke Honda.
After their unimaginative victory against Denmark, Dutch media demanded more from Dutch team. Although win was win, they were not much sign of convincing performance to deserve the win. But team against Japan, who never lost before in their international career, made many critics thought the match was already in the bag.
However, as many superior European teams experienced before, it was not so. During one of most boring first half, no one in Dutch team dared to step up to shoot and as a result they only recorded one shot on target in the first half. 70:30 possession but it looked like Spain versus Switzerland or England v Algeria all over again with Dutch ending up with no goal. Dire first half, a lot of rooms of improvement.
In second half, things slightly improved, as Netherlands went forward with more purpose. After series of attack, they managed to score with Sneijder's thunderous shot outside the box. Keeper saw it but it was another Jabulani moment as the ball bent in last minute.
Japan did not give up and with three changes after conceding goal, they certainly became more lively and threatened Dutch penalty box. The chance eventually to their substitute, Okazaki, but he blazed the ball over the bar.
Too defensive tactic from Japanese team, but they could have embarrassed Dutch if it wasn't another Jabulani effect. Dutch got to hope that Robben's fitness gets better for knock-out stage, as they can not just rely on their luck. FT: NED 1 JPN 0