Disappointing Dutch do enough to overcome Japan

Wesley Sneijder was on target as Holland beat Japan to arrive on the brink of reaching the World Cup second round.

Holland's Wesley Sneijder, No 10, celebrates with teammates after scoring the only goal of the game against Japan in Durban.
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DURBAN // Wesley Sneijder was on target as Holland beat Japan 1-0 in a Group E clash today and put themselves on the brink of reaching the World Cup second round. Sneijder's fine 53rd minute strike deceived Japan's goalkeeper, Eiji Kawashima, who misjudged the flight of the ball and could only deflect it into the back of the net. However, the goal was reward for a much improved start to the second half by the unimpressive Dutch, who had been frustrated by the Japanese in a dull first period. Japan, who had a surprising victory over Cameroon 1-0 in their opening match, had declared their intent to frustrate their opponents but they also attacked in numbers when they had the chance and will be aggrieved not to have got a goal. Holland, who laboured to a 2-0 win over Denmark in their opening game, lead the group with six points and if Cameroon fail to beat the Danes later today the Dutch will become the first team to book a place in the second round. The first half was disappointing as Holland failed to exploit their possession and mustered only three shots with midfielder Rafael van der Vaart's late effort the only one to test Kawashima in the Japan goal. The Dutch came out firing after the break and Robin Van Persie had already wasted two chances before he seized on a loose ball in the penalty area. With the Japanese defence closing him down, Van Persie slipped the ball to Sneijder on the edge of the box and the playmaker slammed his shot into the net off the keeper. The goal brought Japan even further out of their defensive shell but they lacked composure in front of goal despite some impressive approach play. * Reuters

Group D
Country M W D L GF GA Pts
Holland 2 2 0 0 3 0 6
Japan 2 1 0 1 1 1 3
Cameroon 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
Denmark 1 0 0 1 0 2 0