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Man of the Match

Robben sets Dutch on course for last eight

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Arjen Robben has said his dream final at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa would be Germany versus the Netherlands. That fixture came a step closer on Monday when the FCB star and his Dutch team-mates beat Slovakia 2-1 to progress to the quarter-finals. Mark van Bommel and Co now meet Brazil, 3-0 winners over Chile in the evening, in Port Elizabeth on Friday afternoon.

Just 23 days after sustaining a hamstring injury in a warm-up match, Robben made a first 2010 World Cup finals start for the Elftal in Durban, and immediately walked off with the Man of the Match honours. The gifted winger fired home a trademark low drive after an explosive run to hand his side an 18th-minute lead. Robben was a constant threat after that, seeing Jan Mucha beat away a goalbound effort on 50 minutes, before the Slovakia keeper denied Joris Mathijsen a minute later from Robben’s lay-off.

Bayern star sees room for improvement

The second goal which finally put the result beyond doubt came from the boot of Wesley Sneijder six minutes from time. Robben was no longer on the field at this point, as Bondscoach Bert van Marwijk substituted him after 71 minutes. By contrast, Bayern skipper Van Bommel covered the full 90 minutes of a merited Dutch victory. Slovakia only really threatened for a brief period midway through the second half, and Robert Vittek’s consolation goal from the penalty spot was the last kick of the match.

“I’m not at 100 percent yet, but it was enough for today,” Robben commented after the final whistle. The player feels the Netherlands team must do better against the Brazilians. “Winning was the important thing today. It wasn’t our best performance by any means. I think we’ll need to improve in the quarter-final.”