Tag Archives: Elia

Netherlands crawl to win over Japan

Netherlands 1-0 Japan

Holland maintained their winning start to the World Cup and kept another clean sheet but this was another disappointing display from the Oranje. The traditional image most football fans have of Dutch football is clean and quick passing with plenty of goalscoring opportunities. This image does not yet apply to the Oranje class of 2010. Bert van Marwijk’s side created very little opportunities in front of goal and for the second successive game benefited from a moment of fortune to take the lead.

 

The first half did little for the imagination. Holland did control possession for long spells and put numerous passes together but the majority of these were uninventive passes across the midfield. The notoriously defensive Takeshi Okada had his side set out to stifle the Dutch as his side successfully managed against Cameroon last week. It is difficult to quantify whether it was the lack of incision from Holland or Okada’s tactics which gave rise to the drab first period.

Nevertheless, there was a surprisingly physical edge to the first half. Yuichi Komano suffering an injury to his jaw after he was caught by the boot of Robin van Persie as the Arsenal striker tumbled to the ground. This instance was just one of a variety of clumsy challenges, with Giovanni van Bronckhorst on the receiving end of a particularly painful looking tackle.

 

There were no clear chances to report, although strangely Samurai Blue looked the more likely to score before the break. Yoshito Okubo shooting on sight from outside the penalty area, none of his efforts were legitimately threatening however.

It was a frustrating first half for Holland who still seemed to be suffering without the creative intuition of Arjen Robben. The Van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder axis had once again failed to impress and was very much a case of failing to amount to the some of two very talented components.

Holland benefited from a bizarre own-goal to take the lead against Denmark and were similarly fortuitous to take the lead against Japan. A poor defensive header from Tulio fell to the feet of the hitherto terrible Robin van Persie. The Arsenal striker rolled a bobbling pass back to Wesley Sneijder who fired a forceful effort towards the right of Eiji Kawashima’s goal. The Japanese goalkeeper flew across goal to attempt a diving save but unfortunately for the Kawasaki Frontale ‘keeper the by now infamous Jabulani football appeared to veer onto his wrists from where it rebounded into the opposite side of the net. Takeshi Okada was visibly irked in the technical area.

Holland failed to threaten to add to their advantage, while Japan’s best hope seemed to be set pieces. Asian footballer of the year Yasuhito Endo fired successive corners into the Dutch penalty area but these crosses were dealt with emphatically by Mathijsen, Heitinga and Van der Wiel.

Okada appeared to recognise that a good delivery could bring Samurai Blue back into contention and sent noted dead-ball specialist Shunsuke Nakamura on as a substitute in search of improved deliveries.

Holland improved marginally in the final ten minutes as substitute Ibrahim Afellay may feel unlucky not to have converted at least one of his two late chances.

With the game approaching stoppage time Japan’s best chance arrived. A looping, high pass was flicked forward to Okazaki who, with only Maarten Stekelenburg to beat, cleared the crossbar with his effort.

The Dutch hung on to secure a second victory in the group stage and move closer to advancement to the Round of 16. Understandably, questions will be levelled at Bert van Marwijk as to why his side have been unable to replicate their scintillating form in the run up to the tournament in South Africa. For many Arjen Robben is paramount. His vitality, inventiveness and dependability should go some way towards improving what has been an insipid tournament from the Oranje so far.

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Own goal gets Holland off the mark

It was not a vintage Oranje performance but Holland marked their entry into the 2010 FIFA World Cup with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Denmark. Bert Van Marwijk’s side endured a difficult first half in which they failed to create many opportunities but were gifted the lead less than a minute into the second half courtesy of a Daniel Agger own goal. The Netherlands doubled their advantage in the 84th minute with Dirk Kuyt converting a rebound from Eleandro Elia’s effort.

The Dutch, characteristically, enjoyed the majority of the possession in the first half but seemed unable to break down a rugged Danish outfit. Opta’s statistics showed that they were only able to have control of the ball in the Danish penalty area three times before the interval.

The tedious nature of the game was emphasised by several rounds of Mexican waves that circled the pitch at Soccer City. The fans seeking some enjoyment in the beautiful weather in Johannesburg.

The best chance of the half fell to Denmark’s Nikklas Bendtner. The Arsenal striker faded off the shoulders of Mathijsen and Heitinga as he attempted to head goalwards. Denis Rommedahl’s cross reached him at an awkward height and the Arsenal striker’s attempt bounced harmlessly wide.

If Holland were to live up to their exciting reputation they would need to improve in the second half. The breakthrough came almost immediately. Van Persie whipped a cross in towards Dirk Kuyt but it was met by Simon Poulsen’s attempted clearance. The defender, who plays his football in the Dutch Eredivisie for AZ Alkmaar, turned his head too soon before meeting the ball. The ball rebounded off the back of his compatriot Daniel Agger and into the goal.

The goal did little to open up the game as chances remained scarce at either end and the game appeared to be petering out until Eljero Elia was brought on to replace Rafael Van der Vaart.

The twenty-three year old instantly lit up an otherwise dull encounter. He sprang an expertly performed turn to elude two encircling Danes before setting up Robin van Persie who failed to capitalise.

Elia was once again involved with yet more craftiness on the left-wing. The Hamburg winger sending in a challenging cross which eventually found its way to Mark van Bommel who crashed a shot towards Thomas Sørensen. The Danish goalkeeper equal to the effort.

Holland began to attack with more conviction in the latter stages. Wesley Sneijder’s long range attempt ricocheted off Agger and onto the crossbar.

In the 84th minute the Dutch finally claimed the second goal. Wesley Sneijder played an excellent pass through the Danish defence where Eljero Elia was poised to cap his cameo with a goal. He opened up expertly but his shot was denied by the post. Fortuitously it rolled into the path of Kuyt who applied the easiest of finishes.