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Netherlands Beats Cameroon For World Cup Sweep

AP/Huffington Post   RAF CASERT   First Posted: 06/24/10 05:24 PM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 05:55 PM ET

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — The players were delighted, the coach was discomforted.

So which is the real Netherlands team at the World Cup?

The Dutch produced their first goals of flair and finesse to beat Cameroon 2-1 and set up a second-round match with Slovakia.

Robin Van Persie finished off an end-to-end move in the 36th minute, and substitute Arjen Robben sent a shot against the post in the 83rd that Klaas Jan Huntelaar only had to slide in for the winner.

In between, Samuel Eto'o scored on penalty kick for Cameroon.

A Dutch supporter cheers prior to their
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A Dutch supporter cheers prior to their Group E first round 2010 World Cup football match Netherlands vs Cameroon on June 24, 2010 at Green Point stadium in Cape Town. NO PUSH TO MOBILE / MOBILE USE SOLELY WITHIN EDITORIAL ARTICLE AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH (Photo credit should read RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Dutch won Group E with three victories. They play Slovakia on Monday in Durban.

"Our play was good," Van Persie said. "We can be really pleased with this."

Not necessarily, according to coach Bert van Marwijk.

"We were far too nonchalant in the second half," Van Marwijk complained. "Our final spell put us on the right track again, but consider this a serious warning."

Perhaps Van Marwijk was seeking to avoid his team getting overconfident as it heads into the knockout round.

Playing with poise and confidence, the Dutch often thrilled the crowd of 63,093 with their creative moves. Yet Eto'o and Cameroon often were able to pierce the defense and threaten goalie Maarten Stekelenburg.

In the 73rd minute, the tens of thousands of orange-clad fans in the Green Point Stadium cheered when Robben made his debut at the World Cup almost three weeks after sustaining a left hamstring injury in a warmup game. He immediately showed his value.

After tiptoeing carefully during his first moves, he was served a pass on the right wing 10 minutes after coming on. With a move so often seen during his sterling season with Bayern Munich, he cut inside, beat defenders and curled a shot past goalkeeper Hamidou Souleymanou. It crashed against the post and Huntelaar was in the right place to give the Netherlands the win.

"It is good to be back. I had to get back in the groove and it worked. Too bad the shot did not go in," Robben said.

Added Netherlands defender John Heitinga: "He showed he can really break open any game."

Cameroon lost all three of its matches. After the third loss, coach Paul Le Guen announced he was leaving the position with Cameroon.

"I ended my mission. Now I will reflect carefully," he said.

After two victories, coach Bert van Marwijk sought to keep the momentum and played both midfielder Nigel de Jong and Van Persie, even though both would have been excluded from the Slovakia game if they drew another yellow card.

Instead, Van Persie scored a typical Dutch goal in the 36th minute, one that flowed from defense to attack with crisp, pinpoint passing and ended with a precise shot.

After Dirk Kuyt took the ball up the right side, Van Persie played a neat one-two with Rafael van der Vaart, and then shot through the legs of Souleymanou from a tight angle.

Cameroon, which put Africa on the soccer map when it reached the quarterfinals of the 1990 World Cup, did not give up. Van der Vaart handled a free kick by Geremi in the area. Eto'o scored on the penalty kick.

Late in the game, Cameroon defender Rigobert Song made a cameo appearance in his fourth World Cup.

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