The winner of this match would almost certainly assure themselves a spot in the Round of 16. The 1st half was basically a kick around session for The Netherlands as they dominated possession but couldn't penetrate a stacked Japan defense. Neither goalkeeper was seriously tested in the 1st half with the most dangerous threat coming in the 40th minute when Japan midfielder Daisuke Matsui's volleyed shot sailed into Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg's chest for a comfortable save.
Both teams were more aggressive towards goal in the 2nd half as both sides searched for the goal that would give them control of the group. That goal came in the 53rd minute when Dutch #10, Wesley Sneijder found some space just outside the box and blasted a shot on goal. The flight of the ball was misjudged by Japan's keeper Eiji Kawashima who dove a little too far to his right as the ball deflected off his left hand and into the back of the net giving The Clockwork Oranje the 1-0 advantage.
(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
The Japanese increased the pressure on the Dutch goal in search of an equalizer and they almost did in the 89th minute when 2nd half substitute Shinji Okazaki got behind the Dutch defense in the box but missed high over the goal. The Japanese search for an equalizer left space for Dutch counters.
Dutch substitute Ibrahim Afellay missed two opportunities to increase the lead on breakaway chances, both times Afellay was denied by Kawashima. The whistle blew with The Netherlands taking the 3 points with a 1-0 victory. In simultaneous matches on the 24th, The Netherlands face Cameroon in Cape Town at Green Point Stadium while Japan play Denmark in Rustenburg at Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
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