A superb strike from Arjen Robben and a late Wesley Sneijder goal gave Netherlands a deserved if somewhat underwhelming victory over Slovakia to seal their place in the World Cup quarter-finals.
Robben capped his first start of the finals in South Africa by collecting a pass from Sneijder before running at the Slovakia defence and then firing a superb low drive into the net from 25 yards.
Sneijder stroked home a pull-back from Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt to essentially seal the game for the Dutch, with Robert Vittek firing home a consolation penalty with the very last kick of the match.
It gave Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk and his side a deserved victory, but one they rarely had to be at their best to secure against opponents that worked hard but lacked the composure to capitalise on the few chances that fell their way.
In reaching the last 16 and eliminating Italy via a 3-2 group win over the holders, Slovakia have achieved their goal in their first World Cup since splitting from Czechoslovakia in 1993.
With a quarter-final tie against either Brazil or Chile to come, the Dutch will have to up their game if they are to fulfil their own aim.
Van Marwijk's men have a 100% record in South Africa - matching their impressive achievement in winning all their qualification games for the tournament - and have now gone a Dutch record 23 games unbeaten, but there remains discontent amongst the Oranje Army, who feel their side are not winning with sufficient style. What England would give for such concerns.
Such gripes, whilst arguably trivial in a successful side, are valid as the current Netherlands side are not the aesthetically pleasing product of generations past.
They do not compare to the revered teams from 1974 and 1978, nor even are they as fluent as that which was eliminated from the European Championships at the quarter-final stage in 2008.
This Dutch have traded in their total game for dependent football, with an efficiently pragmatic, rigid structure functioning largely to feed a supremely talented and liberated front three of Sneijder, Robben and Robin van Persie.
This trio are capable of hurting the world's best and Slovakia - ranked 34 in the world - were unable to cope with their pace and movement.
All three had efforts on goal during the first half, and while Van Persie planted a poor header wide and Sneijder shot straight at Slovakia goalkeeper Jan Mucha from an angle, Robben ruthlessly exposed Slovakia's defensive fallibility to score in the 18th minute.
Sneijder floated a superb, raking pass to release the Bayern Munich man, who controlled, ran on, cut inside and then finished with aplomb into the bottom corner. It was the only moment of true quality in the first 45 minutes.
Robben was again in the thick of the action early in the second half, collecting the ball on the left and drawing a good full-stretch save from Mucha with a curling effort before appearing on the right and pulling back for Sneijder to shoot, but again the Slovakia keeper saved, this time with his face.
Slovakia offered little threat in the first half, but twice in a space of two second-half minutes they threatened to draw level.
Miroslav Stoch took a leaf out of Robben's book by cutting inside onto his right foot and shooting but Netherlands keeper Maarten Stekelenburg tipped over.
Seconds later Marek Hamsik toe-poked forward for Vittek, who showed none of the composure he demonstrated to score twice against Italy by firing straight at Stekelenburg.
With six minutes remaining, Sneijder made amends for his earlier miss, this time receiving a pull-back from Kuyt, after Mucha had missed the initial pass to the Liverpool player, and slotting home into a largely empty net.
Slovakia's final touch in this World Cup was a positive one as Vittek stroked home a penalty for his fourth and final goal of the tournament after Stekelenburg had tripped the striker.
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
Projected table based on current scores
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|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|