Arjen Robben made an immediate impact on his first start for the Netherlands as he scored early on to sink Slovakia. Wesley Sneijder made the game safe in the final ten minutes as the Dutch progressed to the quarter-finals, before Robert Vittek netted a penalty with the last kick of the game.
Netherlands have now won all four games at the World Cup and will meet the winner
of Brazil's clash with Chile on Friday in Port Elizabeth.
The game at the Moses Mabhida stadium offered two contrasting styles, with
the Oranje pursuing a patient passing game while Slovakia adopted a more direct
approach to try to utilise Vittek's pace.
Robben earned his first start at the World Cup after recovering from a calf
injury and he terrorised Slovakia's defence with pace and skill before being
replaced after the hour mark.
Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss made just one change to the side that knocked
Italy out of the tournament.
The Slovaks, looking to upset another World Cup heavyweight, started in
confident fashion and had the first chance after two minutes but Erik
Jendrisek's left-footed strike from 25 yards went over the bar.
Netehrlands struggled to break down Slovakia's defence and were limited to
long-range shooting. Sneijder tried his luck from distance and his effort went high and wide while shortly after, Dirk Kuyt fired just wide of the near post.
In the 10th minute, Sneijder should have done better after being set up inside
the area by Van Persie. However, the Inter Milan forward shot straight at Slovakia goalkeeper Jan Mucha.
It did not take long for Holland to go in front, though. A great long ball from
Sneijder found Robben and the Bayern Munich winger cut inside two defenders
before firing a left-footed strike into the net.
On the half-hour mark, Miroslav Stoch got the ball into the danger zone but
no-one was there to get on the end of his cross.
Van Marwijk's side were happy to sit on their lead with Slovakia unable to put a good move
together. Robin van Persie should have doubled Netherlands' lead before half-time but his
close-range shot from Mark van Bommel's cross went wide.
Slovakia showed more determination after the restart but it was the Oranje who
looked more deadly. Mucha was twice called into action to prevent them from extending their lead.
The Slovakia goalkeeper was forced to fully stretch to make a one-handed save
from Robben's shot and, seconds later, Mark van Bommel's close-range shot was
parried away by Mucha.
Stekelenburg made his first save of the afternoon in the 65th minute by palming
over Stoch's right-footed strike from the edge of the area. Slovakia should have equalised seconds later but Vittek's effort was parried away by Stekelenburg.
At the other end, Kuyt latched onto Sneijder's free-kick but his header went
over the bar. In the 73rd minute, Kuyt warmed the hands of Mucha with a stinging drive from 25 yards and Holland ended Slovakia's hopes in the 84th minute. Kuyt fed Sneijder and he struck the ball home from 15 yards.
With seconds remaining, Vittek coolly scored from the penalty spot to score his
fourth goal of the World Cup, but it was too little, too late.