Sneijder maintains Dutch form

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Wesley Sneijder's second-half goal handed Holland a 1-0 win over Japan in their second Group E match and put the Oranje within reach of the last 16 of the World Cup after taking maximum points from their opening two games.

Following a frustrating opening half, Bert van Marwijk's side finally broke through in the 52nd minute with Sneijder's stinging drive deflected into the net by Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.

Japan had the best chance to level the score one minute from time but an unmarked substitute Shinji Okazaki fired over the bar from just 10 yards as Holland held on for victory.

Holland dominated the early exchanges and created the first chance after four minutes when Robin van Persie's teasing cross from the left flashed across the goal and just eluded Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt.

Shortly after the half hour Keisuke Honda nodded high from Daisuke Matsui's free-kick. Tulio Nataka then latched onto Yasushito Endo's free-kick and his header went wide as Japan got closer.

Japan first tested Maarten Stekelenburg in the 37th minute, with Matsui's volley forcing a save from the Holland goalkeeper.

Holland pressed forward more aggressively after the break and Van Persie twice had the chance to break the deadlock. His weak header from Giovanni van Bronckhorst's cross proved an easy save for Kawashima and seconds later, the Arsenal striker fired wide from 15 yards.

The Dutch took the lead soon after. A poor headed clearance from Japan's defence fell to Van Persie who spotted Sneijder and the Inter Milan winger's powerful strike came off Kawashima and found the back of the net.

Japan reacted and Yoshito Okubo forced a good save from Stekelenburg with a stinging drive from 25 yards. Shortly after, Okubo fired over the bar then dragged wide as the Blue Samurai surged for the equaliser.

Substitute Ibrahim Afellay twice had the chance to put the game beyond Japan's reach in the latter stages and he almost lived to regret his wastefulness, as, with seconds left to play, Okazaki struck wide from close-range.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Robin Van Persie
Premier League
Dirk Kuyt

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