Netherlands end Elephant's dream

The Netherlands have booked their place in the final 16 and the Ivory Coast’s tickets home with a 2-1 victory in Stuttgart.

    The flying Dutchman Robin van Persie

    Two first half goals were enough to earn the Duth their qualification with only the Group C ranking to be sorted by their final group match with Argentina on June 21.

    Both sides started the game positively with three points being the aim.

    Attacking raids were traded until Dutch striker Robin Van Persie broke the deadlock.

    The Arsenal player earned his side a free kick at the top of the box on 22 minutes and decided to step up and take it himself.

    It proved a wise choice, as he picked a gap above the head of the diminutive Arthur Boka and drove an unstoppable pile driver into the back of the net.

    Four minutes later, things looked bleak for the African debutants when a mazy run from Chelsea midfielder Arjen Robben confused the defence before he slid a pass through to striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, who outsmarted the offside trap perfectly, and sent his side 2-0 up.

    But another of the Ivory Coast mighty midgets, Bakary Kone brought the game to life six minutes before the break when a great individual run was followed by a strike which brought the Ivorian fans and neutrals to their feet as he breathed life into the Elephants' campaign.

    In the second half, the Elephants continued to press forward as they looked to keep their tournament alive.

    Dutch coach Marco Van Basten signaled his intention to defend the lead with 17 minutes remaining when he withdrew striker van Nistelrooy for defensive midfielder Denny Landzaat.

    The decision set up a grand stand finish with the game played almost exclusively in the Dutch half, but as was the case in their first match, a second goal proved a yard too far for Henri Michel’s men.

    The Ivory Coast play their final game for pride only against Serbia and Montenegro in Munich on June 21.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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