BBC Sport world-cup-2010

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Netherlands 1-0 Japan

By Chris Bevan
  1. 09:01 Commentary  

    Hello, I'm Chris Bevan - welcome to the morning after the night before. Was it really as bad as it seemed? Er, yes. England were absolutely awful against Algeria here in Cape Town on Friday night. Plenty to chew over in the aftermath of that one, but where do we start?

  2. 09:05 Commentary  
  3. 09:12 Commentary  

    So, where do England go from here? (hopefully the answer is not 'home' after Wednesday's final group game against Slovenia). If you've got the answer, text me on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide), I'm on Twitter @chrisbevan_bbc or you can always get involved on 606.
     

  4. World Cup Have Your Say  

    From James Kip' Kasis on WCHYS: "I'm coming to believe that English players, Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, have brought their premier league rivalry into the World Cup, and they just can't work things out. They don't play with passion the way they do for their clubs!!!!"

  5. 606  

    From smartBeeNo1: "If I was Capello now, I would drop Wayne Rooney. He has done absolutely nothing in the two games and he is rated as one of the best players in the world. What a load of tosh!!!! Start with Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch up front."

  6. 09:24 Commentary  

    England coach Fabio Capello admits he was dumbfounded by how bad his side were against the Algerians... let's just hope he works out why it happened before they play Slovenia in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday. But what is wrong? His team-selection or his tactics, a lack of passion or a lack of ideas... or is it all of the above?

  7. Twitter  

    From tomsgotchud: "Rooney was right - a supporter should, by definition, support the team, no matter what."

  8. World Cup Have Your Say  

    From Dave Gratton on WCHYS: "Yes it is OK to boo your team if it is justifiable. That performance warranted more than just boos. If Rooney doesn't like it then he needs to DO SOMETHING to EARN the fans cheers."

  9. SMS  

    From Bryan in Scunthorpe: "Before everyone calls too loudly for Wayne Rooney's head, remember, there were 10 other sub-par performances last night. No one man can be held to account for a team performance... well, unless your name is Fabio!!"

  10. Commentary England captain Steven Gerrard  

    "We need to improve all round. We need to find some spirit really quickly because Wednesday is our last chance. I don't want to be going home early and neither do the rest of the team."

  11. Contributor BBC Sport's Alan Shearer  

    "It's morning but it's not a good morning. England were dreadful weren't they? To say it was pretty poor is being polite - the big thing for me is that the players didn’t look comfortable in the way they were asked to play. That's why they were a shadow of how they usually perform in the Premier League."

  12. 09:45 Commentary  

    Two games, and two draws so far for Fabio Capello's men then. A win against Slovenia will definitely be enough to send them through to the last 16 but anything else, and it gets complicated. One of the possible permutations of Group C is, if England draw 2-2 and the United States draw 0-0 with Algeria, then lots will be drawn to decide whether England or the US go through in second place. And you thought penalties were bad!?!

  13. 09:49 Commentary  

    Danny Baker is in Cape Town and currently dealing with the aftermath of last night in his show on BBC Radio 5 live. He's already described being at the game as being "like one of those moments when you go round to see another couple when everything's all polite, but you can feel a negative crackle and you think 'hello, they've just had a row'...".

  14. SMS  

    From Gus in Westbury: "That has to be one of the worst performances I have seen from England at a World Cup. Surely letting the players know who will be playing two hours before kick-off cannot be helping. Mr Capello has gone right down in my estimation and needs to act fast or we will be coming next Thursday."

  15. SMS  

    From Ade in the West Midlands: "I can't remember a worse performance at a World Cup or European Championships. I have seen some of the players play badly but what is wrong with Wayne Rooney? Is he injured? The one thing I love about Rooney is his desire, hard work and his inspiration on a team. Where has this gone? Last night, he gave the ball away, his control was poor and he wasn't fighting back like he does. Is he trying to show his frustration by not playing in his preferred position on his own upfront? Please Mr Capello change it for Wayne, for England."

  16. Commentary England striker Jermain Defoe on his side being booed  

    "I think it is part and parcel of playing at this level. You can understand fans getting frustrated and obviously they have travelled miles to come and support the team. But I think it's important for the fans to stay behind us because the lads are devastated we didn't win tonight. We want to do it for everyone back home, for our families, the boys, the manager and everyone."

  17. 10:02 Commentary  

    Here's one reason to be cheerful, or at least try to be. England's start to the tournament has definite echoes of the way they began the Mexico '86 World Cup, with defeat by Portugal and a disappointing draw by Morocco. Things got much better in their final group game, of course, with Gary Lineker scoring a hat-trick to help see off Poland and England eventually reached the quarter-finals. Maybe if someone could persuade Wayne Rooney to wear a plaster cast on his arm against Slovenia, everything will turn out all right?

  18. Twitter  

    From Adam_Clatworthy: "England's problem is simple. 4-4-2 with three centre-midfielders can never work. It's ridiculous. USE JOE COLE!"

  19. 606  

    From ShabazaGooner: "Surely Capello can't be fully responsible, the coach has a limited role, especially on the pitch these players do not look proud to be wearing the English shirt, the lack of national pride is alarming."

  20. 10:10 Commentary  

    Former England boss Graham Taylor - who, let's face it, knows what it feels like to face criticism after a poor international performance or two - feels Fabio Capello needs to start explaining himself better. Taylor says: "I think real football questions should be answered by Fabio. He doesn't answer them, he's starting to say he doesn't understand the question or gives you back an answer you know isn't correct. He's starting to ask for a translation, which wasn't the case when we were winning games."

  21. Contributor BBC Radio 5 live's David Moyes  

    "England are still in it but last night they just looked like a side that, at this moment in time, don't know how to get a result. I think they tried against Algeria, and they obviously wanted to win, but they didn't have enough on the night to do it."

  22. 10:17 Commentary  

    I know we could talk about England's woes all day, and some of you probably will, but here's some good news if you want to take your mind off their problems - three more World Cup games today. In a couple of hours time, the Netherlands play Japan in Group E (12:30 BST kick-off), followed by Ghana against Australia in Group D (15:00 BST, live on BBC One and this website if you are in the UK) and a return to Group E for Cameroon-Denmark (19:30 BST).

  23. SMS  

    From Joe in Essex: "Why is everyone getting on Wayne Rooney's back? Remember Steven Gerrard is the captain and was by far our worst player last night. He didnt lead, didnt raise our boys, nothing! Saying all that... I still believe!"

  24. Twitter  

    From sushi_football: "Here in Japan, people are approaching the Netherlands game with cautious optimism. Honda & Tulio are the key players for Japan."

  25. 10:32 Commentary  

    I wonder if any of the England players have got their hands on any newspapers this morning? I doubt it somehow... a lot of them did not exactly seem keen to speak to the media when they moved through the mixed zone at Cape Town Stadium last night. Anyway, the headlines do not make pleasant reading: 'pathetic', 'clueless' and 'dismal' seems to be the general consensus... basically the same as you lot think.

  26. SMS  

    From Neil in Plymouth: "Perhaps the fan who got into the England dressing room should get a game - at least he can get through a defence."

  27. SMS  

    From Sam Higgitt in Ruthin in North Wales: "In Italia '90 England started with exactly the same scores as this year - 1-1 (Republic of Ireland) and then 0-0 (Holland) before scraping into last 16 with a 1-0 win in last game... we all know how close they came that time. Don't panic yet!!"

  28. 606  

    From Hammydigrassi: "Come on Holland show the English how it's done."

  29. Commentary Netherlands coach Bert Van Marwijk  

    "Now the players are more relaxed and less nervous after their opening game I expect a better performance against Japan. The opening game in a tournament is always difficult, and while our first-half performance against Denmark was not up to our standard, we should have worked things out better over this week in training."

  30. 10:48 Commentary  

    By the way, we are unlikely to see much of Arjen Robben for the Dutch today, if anything at all. On Friday, the Bayern Munich winger - who has had a hamstring injury - trained properly for the first time since arriving in South Africa. Asked if Robben would play against Japan, Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk said: "Normally, no. But you never know."

  31. SMS  

    From Rob in Derby: "Joe Cole has no club manager to impress or no club to play for. He is playing for pride and he will play for himself and no one else! Capello needs to give him a chance."

  32. SMS  

    From anon: "I'm half Dutch and half Japanese, so today's game is a bit of a dilemma, but I think I'm going to put all my loyalties with Holland!"

  33. Contributor BBC Sport's James Pearce  

    via Twitter: "A good source has just told me one of main reasons for Rooney frustration was his struggle to see ball in stadium floodlights."

  34. 11:05 Commentary  

    Here's a 'good news' story for this World Cup. There are 2,000 Ghana fans following their team around South Africa and their trip - tickets, accommodation, food, drink et al - has been paid for by the country's government. A nice touch... I can't see David Cameron will be following suit with England though. Sorry.

  35. Commentary Japan coach Takeshi Okada on facing the Netherlands  

    "We will be playing against a wonderful team, which is one of the favourites for the title. We realise this is a sophisticated team but we believe we have a chance to win. We shouldn't feel small even though they have great name players in the team."

  36. Commentary South African police colonel Billy Jones on their search for the fan who entered the England dressing room after the Algeria game  

    "The man was wearing a red t-shirt and jeans. We believe he is still in Cape Town."

    Hmmm. If that is all they have to go on, they might have a tricky job tracking him down...

  37. 11:25 Commentary  

    As suspected, Arjen Robben does not start for the Netherlands. Eljero Elia is also still on the bench despite his impressive late cameo against Denmark. I'll get full team news for the Dutch and Japan over to you as soon as I can.

  38. 606  

    From We_Are_All_United: "I've never felt so let down. Every single English fan in that ground should get a full refund for their tickets, and it should come out of the pockets of every single player who played last night, including Capello."

  39. Contributor BBC Sport's Jonathan Stevenson  

    via Twitter: "Widest grins at the IBC in Jo'burg this morning? Algerian telly, of course. Kevin Keegan did attempt a smile, bless him."

  40. Commentary Netherlands v Japan line-ups  

    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, 8-Nigel de Jong, 23-Rafael van der Vaart; 9-Robin van Persie.

    Japan: 21-Eiji Kawashima; 2-Yuki Abe, 22-Yuji Nakazawa, 4-Tulio, 3-Yuichi Komano; 5-Yuto Nagatomo, 16-Yoshito Okubo, 7-Yasuhito Endo, 17-Makoto Hasebe, 8-Daisuke Matsui; 18-Keisuke Honda.
    Referee: Hector Baldassi (Argentina)

  41. SMS  

    From Joel in France: "England are just like Oasis. No line-up change is going to stop them churning out dire, boring rubbish from the mid-90’s til now. Time to retire?"

    Some Might Say that Joel is right here... I'd like to think Fabio has still got a Masterplan though. We'll see.

  42. Commentary Netherlands v Japan team news  

    Both Netherlands and Japan stick to the same starting XIs which won their opening matches against Denmark and Cameroon respectively. Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt, praised by none other than Johan Cruyff (not Jordi) for his performance in the opening match, keeps his place on the right-side of midfield for the Netherlands. Arjen Robben remains on the bench as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Arsenal's Robin Van Persie is on a booking. Gamba Osaka's Asian player of the year Yasuhito Endo continues as Japan playmaker.

  43. SMS  

    From Anand from Singapore: "Looks like Slovenia may just win Group C. Probably a runners-up spot for England. Every other team in this group have played good football except England."

  44. 606  

    From backpassgoal: "The English team, media and fans are all too predictable. they are summed up by two words - WHINGING and HYPE. Its time for Netherlands-Japan match so you lot can you forget about rubbish England and concentrate on upcoming matches. Chris, over to you. Lead the line."

    Blimey. I'll do my best - I just hope I make a better job of it than Emile Heskey has managed so far.

  45. 12:05 Commentary  

    Here's the deal - by all means keep the England debate going, but I'm going to concentrate on Netherlands-Japan from now on (especially when the game kicks off at 12:30!). I hope that's all right with you lot? Feel free to boo me if not...

  46. 12:08 IT'S RAINING  

    Not sure what the weather is doing in Durban at the moment, but there has been heavy rain there for the last couple of days and there are concerns over the pitch at the new 62,000-capacity Moses Mabhida Stadium. Both the Dutch and Japanese teams had to train at the the Princess Magogo Stadium in Kwamashu Township last night instead.

  47. 12:16 Commentary  

    The Netherlands and Japan are sitting pretty at the top of Group E at the moment after winning their opening games. Neither were massively convincing, however, and I've got a feeling Japan might approach this game thinking a draw would be a decent result. Probably because it would be.

  48. Contributor BBC Radio 5 live's Robbie Savage  

    "I'm in touch with Johnny Metgod [Derby coach and part of the Dutch set-up as a scout in South Africa]. The incentive for their players if they get through the group stages, unlike England, is that their wives and kids are coming out for three days. They need a lift. It's very boring being away from home for so long."

  49. 12:21 Commentary  

    The players are in the tunnel at the Moses Mabhida Stadium... Dutch midfielder Rafael van der Vaart has got a small bandage on his wrist and has just checked with the referee whether he is OK to play with it.

  50. SMS  

    From Syedmw: "Re 12:05 Booo! Oh, wait, I thought we were still booing about England. Chris, you, I like. Make my day at work a lot more interesting again."

  51. 12:27 Commentary  

    The teams are out and we’ve had the anthems... you know what is coming next, hopefully.

  52. SMS  

    From Dave in Belfast: "Holland play fantastic football and should beat a very resillient Japan side without the need to risk Arjen Robben, don't you think?"

    I don't think it will be easy to break Japan down but if the Dutch forward line finds any spark, they've got a good chance of doing exactly that.

  53. 12:30 KICK-OFF Netherlands v Japan  

    The Dutch get us started... lots of their fans here - guess what colour most of them are wearing?

  54. 3 mins Commentary  

    lot of Dutch possession in the first couple of minutes... mostly in their own half, mind. We've not seen much from Japan yet.

  55. 6 mins Commentary  

    It's still all about the Netherlands at the moment. No chances yet, though, just a corner that was easily cleared.

  56. 10 mins Commentary  

    Robin van Persie is fouled by Yuji Nakazawa AND Daisuke Matsui; near the left-hand corner of the area. Free-kick to the Dutch but it's a Japanse player who is injured, bizarrely - Yuichi Komano - who was caught by van Persie as he went flying, and is off the field getting treatment. Wesley Sneijder fires in the free-kick in the end... it's a decent effort but it fizzes over the bar.

  57. 13 mins Commentary  

    After Dirk Kuyt sees an acrobatic bicycle kick blocked in front of goal, Japan launch their first attack - and it's a good one. Yuto Nagatomo cuts in from the left and sends a low shot skidding wide of Maarten Stekelenburg's post.

  58. 19 mins Commentary  

    Japan have started as we expected: well-drilled at the back and very cautious going forward. The Netherlands are trying to pass it round them, and they are keeping the ball well, but it hasn't really happened for them yet in the final third... they are going to have to be patient here.

  59. Twitter  

    From Jiminho_: "Already Holland have strung together more passes than England did last night."

  60. Contributor BBC Radio 5 live's David Pleat  

    "Japan are playing a holding game - looking and hoping to get a break, and to entice the Dutch forward and hit them on the break. But the Netherlands are having the major share of possesison and I'm sure Bert van Marwijk will be happier at the moment."

  61. 25 mins Commentary  

    Yuji Nakazawa goes down in a heap after being held off by Robin van Persie - nothing more than that. The Japanese defender made rather a lot of that, I think. Free-kick - but no cards yet though.

  62. Contributor BBC Radio 5 live's David Pleat  

    "It's very interesting that Wesley Sneijder has gone out to the left wing, not only to test his marker, Yasuhito Endo, but to see how Japan react. The Dutch are very good at that - adapting and changing during matches."

  63. 29 mins Commentary  

    A clever turn by Yoshito Okubo on the left touchline wins him some space on the  and this looks promising for Japan... but he rather wastes possession and the attack quickly breaks down. The Dutch are back on the ball, again.

  64. 606  

    From deez08: "Japan already have three points on the board, and can afford to sit back and 'spoil'."

  65. 34 mins Commentary  

    For all their possession, the Dutch are conceding a lot of free-kicks. The latest one is curled into the area - Keisuke Honda meets it first but his header sails miles over.

  66. 37 mins YELLOW CARD  

    Oof. Gregory van der Wiel lunges in on Daisuke Matsui and gets man not ball -Hector Baldassi responds by getting out his yellow card for the first time in this game. The free-kick is fired over to the far post, where Tulio meets it but heads wide under pressure.

  67. 38 mins Commentary  

    Japan's best effort so far. Daisuke Matsui controls a spinning ball on the edge of the area and slams in a dipping shot that Maarten Stekelenburg has to plunge to his right to keep out. Not much power from Matsui, but still a decent stop.

  68. 606  

    From Alexandereski: "It's not only the Dutch nicely knocking the ball around, and stringing together a few passes, but the Japanese players too. After last night, it's... refreshing."

  69. 42 mins Commentary  

    After a bright start, the Dutch have got bogged down. They have not come forward with any purpose for a long time now. Japan are on top at the moment.

  70. Contributor BBC Radio 5 live's David Pleat  

    "Daisuke Matsui is the player who’s caught my eye for Japan. Tulio Tanaka is not dissimilar to John Terry. He runs like him and looks like him in stature."

  71. 45 mins Commentary  

    Not that Japan are exactly throwing men forward either. They look like they will very happy that the game is goalless at the break. Rafael van der Vaart has just fired in a low shot that Japan keeper Eiji Kawashima collects near his left-hand post - I think that's the first save he's had to make.

  72. HALF-TIME Netherlands 0-0 Japan  

    One word to describe this game at the interval? Cagey.

  73. Contributor BBC Radio 5 live's David Pleat  

    “It’s been a comfortable defensive performance by Japan in the first half. They’re very organised. When possession changes hands, that’s their signal to break and try to hurt the Dutch.”

  74. Twitter  

    From butters11: "Wow, this is a bore fest so far. Japan are superb defensively but showing no interest in winning the game. The Nederlands need a spark."

  75. 606  

    From TempestInAFlatHat: "Thank heavens for Japan and the Dutch. And everyone else, really. Much as I'd like England to do well, these tournaments are far more enjoyable when we can forget about our own incompetence for a while."

  76. 13:31 Commentary  

    Japan get the second half started. Yuichi Komano has got a huge plaster on his chin where he was caught by Robin van Persie's boot earlier. It's not a great look, to be honest.

  77. 46 mins Commentary  

    The Dutch were gifted a ridiculous own goal straight after half-time in their first match. Japan would never shoot themselves in the foot like that would they? Er, anyone remember their last friendly with England?

  78. 48 mins Commentary  

    The Netherlands have improved already. First, a cross from the left is headed goalwards by Robin van Persie but it is straight at Eiji Kawashima. Then Van Persie latches on to a precise long ball over the top - he tries to steer into the bottom corner of the net but finds the wrong side of the post.

  79. Contributor BBC Radio 5 live's David Pleat  

    “They’re playing for the first goal, and that’s why it’s cagey. But in the group stage of the World Cup you must expect that. Don’t expect fast, free-flowing football. It doesn’t happen.”

  80. 51 mins Commentary  

    The Dutch threaten again. Rafael van der Vaart whips in a dangerous free-kick from the right... it's aimed for Dirk Kuyt at the far post but Tulio stretches and just about gets his head to it to clear.

  81. 53 mins GOAL Netherlands 1-0 Japan  

    The Dutch make the breakthrough they've been waiting for. A cross from the left isn't cleared and Robin van Persie is able to tee up Wesley Sneijder on the edge of the box. He gets plenty of power behind his rasping shot but Japan keeper Eiji Kawashima should still do better - he was deceived by the flight of the ball and was almost diving out of the way.

  82. 59 mins Commentary  

    Japan have to come forward now and they are doing exactly that - they have already had a couple of pops on goal since falling behind. Yoshito Okubo had the latest one but nothing has seriously threatened Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg yet.

  83. 62 mins Commentary  

    More Japan pressure. Yasuhito Endo bends in a free-kick and Yuki Abe gets a flick on it but it is easily dealt with by Maarten Stekelenburg.

  84. Contributor BBC Radio 5 live's David Pleat  

    “It was a mistake by the goalkeeper - he made a mess of it - but if you buy a ticket you might just win the lottery, and Wesley Sneijder took a chance. On the balance of play, the Dutch deserve it.”

  85. 65 mins SUBSTITUTION  

    A change for Japan. Ex-Celtic star Shunsuke Nakamura is on for Daisuke Matsui. They are still attacking too - Yoshito Okubo tries his luck this time but his bouncing shot flies wide.

  86. Contributor BBC Radio 5 live's David Pleat  

    "We had a stalemate, but we've not got that now. We've got an exciting game, and we're seeing the Dutch having to defend."

  87. 79 mins Commentary  

    Arjen Robben shares a joke with some of his fellow substitutes on the Dutch bench. Still no sign of him coming on the field but, at 1-0 up and defending to be done, it would probably be silly to risk him.

  88. 71 mins Commentary  

    A couple of dangerous crosses are fired across the face of the Dutch goal. With the second one, Robin van Persie gets a boot to it but can only slice it over his own bar. The Netherlands look a bit edgy - it's been all Japan since they fell behind.

  89. 73 mins SUBSTITUTION  

    Yep, the Netherlands need to freshen things up and they seem to have decided that attack is the best form of defence. Eljero Elia, who had a super late cameo against Denmark, is off the bench again to replace Rafael van der Vaart. Elia's pace on the left wing will give Japan something different to worry about.

  90. 78 mins SUBSTITUTION  

    Two more changes by Japan, and they are going for it now - moving to three up front by the looks of things. Prolific striker Shinji Okazaki is on for Makoto Hasebe and another forward Keiji Tamada replaces Yoshito Okubo. By the way, since he came off, Dutch playmaker Rafael van der Vaart has had an ice pack on his right knee.

  91. 82 mins SUBSTITUTION  

    Japan have not built on that decent spell of pressure and the Dutch seem to have ridden the storm. It's definitely change o'clock in this game though: Ibrahim Afellay is coming on for goalscorer Wesley Sneijder.

  92. Contributor BBC Radio 5 live's David Pleat  

    "Although Japan are attacking them, the Dutch are showing that they can defend as a group and that they understand each others' play. They certainly knew their team more than two hours before the kick-off."

  93. 85 mins Commentary  

    It should be game over. The Dutch break quickly and release Ibrahim Afellay, who cuts into the area and is clean through. Robin van Persie is waiting for a cross but Afellay goes for goal himself and is denied by Eiji Kawashima, who is off his line quickly to block.

  94. 87 mins Commentary  

    The Dutch will be into the last 16 today if this score stays the same and Cameroon fail to beat Denmark tonight. Let's not get ahead of ourselves yet though, although Japan are not exactly piling on the pressure.

  95. 89 mins SUBSTITUTION  

    Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is on for Robin van Persie and makes an instant impact, slipping the ball through to Ibrahim Afellay. Again, Afellay only has the keeper to beat but, again, Eiji Kawashima does well, coming out to smother. Japan are still in this game - but only just.

  96. 90 mins Commentary  

    You always fancied Japan to create at least one more chance... and they just have. Shinji Okazaki is quickest to a knockdown in the box but his first-time shot is over the bar and off target. A bit of a waste.

  97. 93 mins Commentary  

    What the...? Is that a penalty!? No. In the last minute of injury time, Yuto Nagatomo goes tumbling as Nigel de Jong shepherds the ball out - and Japan shout for the spot-kick. For a moment, Hector Baldassi appears to have given it - but he was actually signalling for a goal kick. Panic over. Never a penalty either.

  98. FULL-TIME Netherlands 1-0 Japan  

    The Netherlands have not exactly got going at this World Cup yet but they won't be complaining - they still have two wins out of two games.

  99. 606  

    From Aarfy_Aardvark : "Ha ha. The commentators in Japan almost had kittens when they thought it was a penalty. "

  100. 606  

    From IonicJohn: "And that's that. Netherlands going towards the last 16 with not much to show for. Let's hope they're saving strength for the later games."

  101. Contributor BBC Radio 5 live's David Pleat  

    “In the first half the Dutch were tested by Japan’s defending. That changed after the goal, which made for a very interesting second half.”

  102. 14:30 Commentary  

    Well, the Dutch are not quite in the last 16 yet but they are top of Group E with six points and have certainly put one foot in the knockout stages. Thanks for your input today, especially when we were discussing England this morning. I'm going to wrap up now but make sure you follow Ghana v Australia with Jonathan Stevenson. Kick-off is at 15:00 BST. See you on Sunday.

By Chris Whyatt

The Netherlands put themselves on the brink of qualification for the last 16 with a hard-fought victory in Durban over an impressively stubborn Japan side.

Wesley Sneijder's powerful 52nd-minute winner from just outside the box settled a fascinating Group E contest between two contrasting sides who opened up in the second half and were creating good chances right up to the final whistle.

The Dutch will qualify for the knockout stages before their final group game if Cameroon fail to beat Denmark later on Saturday, and are still likely to go through regardless.

Japan came into the match off the back of their first World Cup win on foreign soil after beating Cameroon 1-0 on Monday.

And the afterglow of that historic achievement was evident in the admirable tactical nous they executed in the first half as they stifled the Netherlands' search for fluid creativity with regimental efficiency in front of a near-full Moses Mabhida Stadium.

The Dutch, who are now unbeaten in 21 matches, started like a team full of quiet confidence as they kept possession well and used the width of Dirk Kuyt on the right and Rafael van der Vaart on the left.

Inter Milan midfielder Sneijder had the first clear chance but, on this occasion, could not keep his long-range shot, from a free-kick, down - a common sight in South Africa as players struggle to tame the much-criticised Jabulani ball.

When they did break up the Netherlands' passing, Grenoble midfielder Daisuke Matsui looked bright for Japan - instigating an incisive move that eventually resulted in Yuto Nagatomo hitting a stinging shot just wide.

The Asian side slowly began to frustrate the Dutch, who struggled to bring striker Robin van Persie into the game and lacked a killer pass.

And by the end of the first half Japan had relative control, with towering Brazilian-born defender Tulio heading just wide before Matsui lashed a decent volley straight at goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.

But the Netherlands - who have never won the World Cup, despite a rich pedigree of world-class footballers - took the second half by the scruff of the neck, with Van Persie breaking free on a couple of occasions.

After a period of concerted pressure as the ball ricocheted around the box in the 52nd minute, the Arsenal striker managed to nudge it into the path of Sneijder.

Loitering just outside the penalty area, the Inter Milan star lashed a powerful right-foot shot towards goal that keeper Eiji Kawashima could only deflect into the net when he was well placed to make an effective save.

That moment liberated both teams and no longer could containment tactics be the limit of Japan's ambitions.

They responded in kind, Van Persie finding himself hooking a dangerous cross from substitute Shunsuke Nakamura over his own crossbar from within the six-yard box.

Hamburg's Eljero Elia came on as a substitute for Van der Vaart and nearly recreated the impression he had from the bench in the Netherlands' first match, cleverly releasing Ibrahim Allelay for a one on one, although his fellow substitute could not add a second with seven minutes remaining as Kawashima smothered his attempt.

Japan had the best chance to level the score one minute from time but unmarked substitute Shinji Okazaki fired over from 10 yards.

Seconds later, referee Hector Baldassi waved away penalty claims as Yuto Nagatomo went down under a challenge from Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong and the Dutch clung on to achieve maximum points from their opening two fixtures.

Cameroon play Denmark at 1930 BST in the fourth group E match.

Netherlands Netherlands Flag 1-0 Japan Flag Japan FT

(HT 0-0)

Sneijder, 53
 

Netherlands

Japan

 

Substitutes:

Substitutes:

  • Venue: Moses Mabhida Stadium
  • Referee: H Baldassi
  • Attendance: 62,010
Netherlands     Japan
  • Possession 65%
    35%
  • Attempts on target 5
    2
  • Attempts off target 1
    7
  • Corners 5
    4
  • Fouls 16
    10

Projected table based on current scores

Group A

Group A teams P W D L F A GD PTS
Uruguay 3 2 1 0 4 0 4 7
Mexico 3 1 1 1 3 2 1 4
South Africa 3 1 1 1 3 5 -2 4
France 3 0 1 2 1 4 -3 1

Group B

Group B teams P W D L F A GD PTS
Argentina 3 3 0 0 7 1 6 9
South Korea 3 1 1 1 5 6 -1 4
Greece 3 1 0 2 2 5 -3 3
Nigeria 3 0 1 2 3 5 -2 1

Group C

Group C teams P W D L F A GD PTS
USA 3 1 2 0 4 3 1 5
England 3 1 2 0 2 1 1 5
Slovenia 3 1 1 1 3 3 0 4
Algeria 3 0 1 2 0 2 -2 1

Group D

Group D teams P W D L F A GD PTS
Germany 3 2 0 1 5 1 4 6
Ghana 3 1 1 1 2 2 0 4
Australia 3 1 1 1 3 6 -3 4
Serbia 3 1 0 2 2 3 -1 3

Group E

Group E teams P W D L F A GD PTS
Netherlands 3 3 0 0 5 1 4 9
Japan 3 2 0 1 4 2 2 6
Denmark 3 1 0 2 3 6 -3 3
Cameroon 3 0 0 3 2 5 -3 0

Group F

Group F teams P W D L F A GD PTS
Paraguay 3 1 2 0 3 1 2 5
Slovakia 3 1 1 1 4 5 -1 4
New Zealand 3 0 3 0 2 2 0 3
Italy 3 0 2 1 4 5 -1 2

Group G

Group G teams P W D L F A GD PTS
Brazil 3 2 1 0 5 2 3 7
Portugal 3 1 2 0 7 0 7 5
Ivory Coast 3 1 1 1 4 3 1 4
North Korea 3 0 0 3 1 12 -11 0

Group H

Group H teams P W D L F A GD PTS
Spain 3 2 0 1 4 2 2 6
Chile 3 2 0 1 3 2 1 6
Switzerland 3 1 1 1 1 1 0 4
Honduras 3 0 1 2 0 3 -3 1

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