The Dutch national team advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals on Monday. They defeated Slovakia 2-1 in Durban. Ajax’s Maarten Stekelenburg and Gregory van der Wiel were in action for the whole match. Demy de Zeeuw remained on the sidelines. Stekelenburg was exceptional, making several great saves.
After Luis Suarez and Nicolas Lodeiro, fellow Ajax players Stekelenburg, Van der Wiel and De Zeeuw assured themselves of a spot among the last eight teams at the World Cup on Monday.
The game began auspiciously for the Dutch team, with Van der Wiel back in the squad. Arjen Robben gave the team the lead in the eighteenth minute. A good pass from former Ajax player Wesley Sneijder (with a good move by Robin van Persie) was received by Robben, who was on the starting squad for the first time in this World Cup. With a typical Robben play, he moved to the inside and his left shot was good: 1-0.
At the start of the second half, Robben replicated his move from earlier on, with the difference being that the forward didn’t make good this time. But things remained exciting in Durban. Joris Mathijsen and Van Persie, among others, came close to scoring the second goal for the Dutch, but these attempts weren’t successful.
Midway through the second half, Stekelenburg was key for the Dutch team. Ajax’s keeper made two outstanding saves on attempts from the Slovakian players Stoch and Vittek, effectively keeping the Dutch team in the lead. “Those were two good stops, indeed”, he said with great understatement to the NOS television cameras afterwards.
Right before the end, the Dutch team made it 2-0. On a pass from Dirk Kuyt, Wesley Sneijder’s controlled shot went into the goal. Ajax’s former midfielder therefore assured the team of the lead.
But Slovakia came back during extra time and brought the score to 2-1 after Vittek was hauled down in the penalty kick area. Stekelenburg’s subsequent yellow card and the goal against Holland were the only blemishes on the afternoon. “But we won. That’s what’s important”, said Ajax’s keeper.
The Netherlands will meet the winner of Brazil – Chile on Friday afternoon. That match will kick off at 4p.m. in Port Elizabeth.