Holland continue perfect run
Van Persie opens South Africa finals account in Cape Town
By Elliot Ball. Last Updated: June 25, 2010 9:36am
Van Persie: Opened his World Cup account in Cape Town
Holland maintained their 100 per cent record at the World Cup as they ensured Cameroon left the tournament pointless after running out 2-1 winners in their final Group E game.
Robin van Persie's crisp 36th minute strike gave the Green Point Stadium crowd something to get excited about in an otherwise drab opening period to what was a virtual dead-rubber.
But a much-improved second half saw the Indomitable Lions rewarded for their endeavour as Samuel Eto'o scored his second goal of the tournament via the penalty spot after Rafael van der Vaart was penalised for handballing Geremi's free-kick.
But Paul Le Guen's side were denied a point as Dutch substitute Arjen Robben quickly announced himself to the South Africa finals as his long-range blast cannoned off the post before allowing fellow replacement Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to tuck home the winner.
The Dutch top Group E with nine points and will meet Slovakia in Durban on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals while Cameroon head home empty-handed.
Holland came into the match on an unbeaten run of 21 international matches and had produced wins against Denmark and Japan to secure their progression.
Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk resisted the temptation to start winger Robben, who had missed the previous two matches with a hamstring injury, but there was a starting place in defence for Khalid Boulahrouz at Gregory van der Wiel's expense
Cameroon coach Le Guen made four changes to the side that lost to Denmark last time out with Pierre Webo, Sebastien Bassong, Eyong Enoh and Achille Emana all making way for Landry Nguemo, Jean II Makoun, Gaetan Bong and Eric Choupo-Moting.
Van der Vaart dragged one wide for Holland early on and Cameroon's Aurelien Chedjou fired a weak effort at Maarten Stekelenburg in what was a lame start to the Cape Town contest.
Dirk Kuyt then picked up a needless booking before Van Persie could only fire straight at Hamidou Souleymanou after brilliantly setting himself up by chesting down Giovanni van Bronckhorst's chip forward.
In the 31st minute Cameroon midfielder Makoun headed over from Geremi's cross before Kuyt dragged a good chance wide for Holland.
Finally the crowd had something to cheer after 36 minutes when Van Persie opened the scoring, playing a neat one-two with Van der Vaart before firing between Souleymanou's legs.
It took the Dutch just five minutes of the second half to muster a chance as Mark van Bommel played a sweeping ball forward for Van Persie which his team-mate wastefully hit at the goalkeeper.
Sneijder's free-kick was on target but lacked power while Cameroon showed little conviction going forward.
Van Persie, who would have been suspended for Holland's last 16 clash with Slovakia had he been cautioned, was withdrawn before the hour mark with Huntelaar coming on.
Cameroon's best chance came moments later when substitute Vincent Aboubakar's clever reverse pass found Makoun - who looked offside - but the midfielder was denied by Stekelenburg with Chedjou then blasting over from the loose ball.
Cameroon, who grew in stature as the half wore on, were handed a 64th-minute penalty by referee Pablo Pozo when Van der Vaart raised his arm to block Geremi's free-kick, receiving a booking for his trouble.
Captain Eto'o kept his nerve to convert a perfect spot-kick, his 44th international goal.
Van Marwijk sent on Eljero Elia for Kuyt with Robben still waiting in the wings as Nigel de Jong failed to properly connect with Van der Vaart's teasing free-kick.
Veteran Van Bronckhorst, who will retire after the South Africa finals, was then harshly booked for pulling down Aboubakar.
Stephane Mbia headed over from a set-piece before Le Guen made substitutions of his own, with another veteran in the shape of Rigobert Song getting a brief taste of his fourth World Cup tournament and he received a good reception inside the ground.
Meanwhile, Robben's striptease down to his playing kit excited the crowd before he came on for Van der Vaart.
He made an impact quickly, too, cutting inside and firing a trademark left-footed shot which hit the post and fell to Huntelaar to restore his side's lead in the 83rd minute.
Cameroon had no response as the match petered out and the Indomitable Lions exit the tournament as the only team so far to finish their campaign with no points after three games.