Robben finds right track to keep Dutch on course

DURBAN - Netherlands winger Arjen Robben needed only 18 minutes against Slovakia on Monday to underline that his qualities gives the Dutch team exactly what they missed during the World Cup group phase.

An excellent long pass from Wesley Sneijder sent Robben away on the right flank, where the left-footed player cut in and went past two Slovak defenders to put the Dutch ahead with a well placed shot inside the near post.

It spurred the Dutch to a 2-1 win that earned them a spot in Friday's quarter-final in Port Elizabeth, their first since 1998 when they finished fourth.

"I think I've scored a few goals like that, I'm left-footed and I play on the right side. A lot of the time I go inside and look for the shot," he told a news conference at the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban.


"I waited for the right time. I waited for a step made towards me and I decided to go inside and he couldn't stop me any more and then I had the freedom to shoot."

The 26-year-old Robben, already at his fourth major tournament, went a long way to pay back the confidence coach Bert van Marwijk showed in him after he got injured six days before the start of the World Cup on June 11.

Robben did not join the squad travelling to South Africa but started his recovery in Rotterdam and followed a week later and made his first appearance against Cameroon last Thursday, where his shot off the post gave Klaas-Jan Huntelaar the opportunity to net a rebound.

With Rafael van der Vaart injured for the match against the central Europeans, Van Marwijk took the risk to start with Robben and knew he had made the right choice after 18 minutes.

"If you look just in terms of the injury, it's a big moment because it's a long sprint and you need to be explosive. In general I was pretty free in this game, but I also know that I'm not yet at my top level," said Robben.

"It was a very difficult match, we didn't play our best match today but in the end it's about winning. Hopefully, we will save our best match for when it is needed.

"It was a great experience to be on the pitch again from the first minute and to be decisive for the team, it's a great feeling," he added.

Teammate Dirk Kuyt, who scored the second goal, was forced to move from the right flank to make way for Robben and displayed his willingness to play for the team.

"For me there is no difference as my tasks are the same but everyone knows how dangerous Arjen can be coming from the right flank," he told Reuters.

"And if you see how he fills it in, that is amazing."

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