Whoever won this game was guaranteed to reach the knockout stages, so it was always going to be a hard-fought match. Holland had looked impressive in beating Denmark, and with Van Persie, Van Der Vaart, Sneijder et al in the team, they had an abundance of skill.
But it took an absolutely brilliant shot from Sneijder to break the deadlock in the 53rd minute as Japan were defending doggedly.
Holland have been more efficient than entertaining so far, but they have scored three and conceded none. They are through to the next round and that is all that matters right now.
If Arjen Robben can get fit in time for the knockout stages, perhaps they will be more artful….
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