Holland through as group winners

CAPE TOWN - Netherlands continued their impressive charge at the World Cup when they beat Cameroon 2-1 on Thursday to make it three wins out of three in Group E and advance to a last 16 meeting with Slovakia.

Having won all eight qualifiers, the Dutch, who have already beaten Denmark and Japan here, became the first team since Brazil in 1982 to win all their qualifying and group games.

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They went into Thursday's match already assured of progress and secured top spot with goals by Robin van Persie and Klaas Jan Huntelaar either side of a Samuel Eto'o penalty.

They also had the bonus of a return to action for winger Arjen Robben, who missed the first two games with a hamstring problem but delivered a late cameo off the bench.

Nicely balanced throughout the team, Netherlands have qualified without ever needing to hit peak form and at present are flying the flag as Europe's most impressive nation.

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However, it was something of a mixed performance against Cameroon as they started slowly, took control, were again pushed back but finished strongly.

"In the first half I was relaxed but the second was very mediocre, I thought Cameroon might score and we might even lose," said Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk.

"Cameroon got a penalty and then we woke up... this period of negligence is something we cannot afford and today was a lesson for the next match."


Cameroon can hold their heads high despite going home pointless - their worst showing in six World Cups.

Paul Le Guen announced after the game that, as expected, he would not be continuing as their manager.

"Maybe I didn't succeed in unifying the team," said the Frenchman, who had to deal with player complaints about his selections after the crippling opening defeat to Japan.

After a few nervous moments in defence, Van Persie should have put Netherlands ahead in the 19th minute when he chested down a lovely 40-metre pass by Giovanni van Bronckhorst but shot meekly at goalkeeper Hamidou Souleymanou.

However, the striker made sure in the 36th when a quick-fire one-two with Rafael van der Vaart put him through and he slotted the ball into the net through the keeper's legs.

The goal settled the Dutch and they began to fizz the ball around sharply on Green Point stadium's high-speed surface.

Cameroon kept pressing though as Eto'o, Landry Nguemo, Jean Makoun and Aurelien Chedjou all had second-half chances.

Their pressure was rewarded when Van der Vaart, jumping in the wall, handled a Geremi free kick in the area and Eto'o equalised with a 65th-minute penalty.

Robben came on in the 73rd minute and, after looking lively from his first touch, set up the winner when his 20-metre shot rebounded from a post s