Klaas Jan Huntelaar's late goal ensured Netherlands progressed to the last 16 of the World Cup with a 100% winning record in Group E.
Coach Bert van Marwijk's Dutch side, who will face Slovakia on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals, had to work harder than expected for the points against a spirited Cameroon side, who were already eliminated after losing their first two matches. Arjen Robben came off the bench to help give Van Marwijk's men their third win so far in South Africa.
Huntelaar fired home the rebound after Robben, who has had to wait to make his first appearance of the tournament because of injury, hit the post with a 20-yard drive.
Cameroon had gone behind when Robin van Persie finished off a neat move but levelled through Samuel Eto'o's penalty and will probably feel they deserved something from the game.
The African side enjoyed most of the early pressure and Aurelien Chedjou saw his snap-shot fly straight at goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg after he exchanged passes with Samuel Eto'o on the edge of the area.
Jean Makoun also sent a flicked header spinning over the bar from Benoit Assou-Ekotto's driven cross, but the Dutch were never really opened up at the back despite having defending to do.
Slowly but surely, Van Marwijk's men began to impose themselves on the game and they threatened for the first time when Giovanni Van Bronckhorst fed Van Persie but the Arsenal striker fired straight at Hamidou Souleymanou.
By now, Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder were linking up well and, although Makoun headed over again at the other end, the Dutch were dominating possession and enjoying most of the openings too.
Dirk Kuyt should have done better when Khalid Boulahrouz found him in space in the area, only to fire his shot across the face of goal.
But Liverpool's Kuyt made amends when he started the move that saw his side take the lead after 21 minutes. He advanced to the edge of the area and slipped the ball to Van Persie, who exchanged passes with Van der Vaart before burying a low shot through the legs of Souleymanou.
Van Persie continued to look dangerous after the interval, bringing a diving save from Souleymanou after sprinting on to a long clearance.
But Cameroon were clearly keen to end their World Cup on a high note and responded strongly, with only an instinctive stop by Stekelenburg denying Makoun after he beat the offside trap.
Paul Le Guen's side did not have to wait long for an equaliser, however, as referee Pablo Pozo had no choice but to point to the spot after Geremi's free-kick clearly struck Van der Vaart's arm - and Eto'o stepped up to score his second goal of the tournament.
The Dutch had more defending to do in the closing stages but they weathered the storm and hit back to win the game with a devastating counter-attack.
Robben cut in from the right before sending a rasping shot against the post, and the ball bounced back perfectly into Huntelaar's path for him to fire into an empty net.
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
Projected table based on current scores
|Group A teams||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||PTS|
|Group B teams||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||PTS|
|Group C teams||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||PTS|
|Group D teams||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||PTS|
|Group E teams||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||PTS|
|Group F teams||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||PTS|
|Group G teams||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||PTS|