Van Persie scores as Dutch win and top Group F
The Netherlands beat Cameroon 2-1 in Cape Town on Thursday to top Group F with a 100 per cent record. Robin Van Persie scored his first goal of the tournament and Arjen Robben played his first World Cup minutes as a second half substitute, dpa reported.
The Dutch took the lead in the Green Point stadium thanks to Van Persie's strike. Samuel Eto'o scored a penalty to level but Klaas Jan Huntelaar wrapped up the points for the Netherlands.
Bert Van Marwijk's side will now face Slovakia on Monday in Durban. Paraguay will play Japan in Pretoria on Tuesday after they beat Denmark to finish second.
Goalscorer Van Persie became only the fourth Dutchman to score in more than one World Cup. He joined the illustrious company of Johnny Rep, Robbie Rensenbrink and Dennis Bergkamp as the Netherlands became the only European team to take maximum points from their group.
The Dutch did not risk Arjen Robben from the start, leaving the Bayern Munich man on the bench. Their only change from the team that had already beaten Denmark and Japan was Khalid Bhoulahrouz replacing Gregory van der Wiel at right-back.
With Cameroon already out, coach Paul Le Guen brought in Gaeten Bong, Jean Makoun, Landry Nguemo and Eric Choupo-Moting. Achille Emana, Pierre Webo and Sebastian Bassong dropped to the bench and Eyong Enoh missed the game through injury.
The coach later announced that he was not renewing his contract with Cameroon, which was due to expire at the end of the tournament.
There were chances for both sides inside the first five minutes with Aurelien Chedjou going close for Cameroon and Rafael van der Vaart shooting wide for the Netherlands.
John Hettinger then went through the back of Samuel Eto'o but nothing came of the Cameroon free-kick. Makoun headed a Benoit Assou- Ekotto cross wide for the Africans but it was soon the Netherlands on top.
Man of the Match van Persie shot straight at the keeper after being set-up by Giovani van Bronkhorst. And Dirk Kuyt dragged a shot wide moments later.
On 36 minutes Van Persie opened the scoring with his first goal of the tournament. The Arsenal man exchanged passes with Van der Vaart before finishing through Jamidou Souleymanou's legs.
The goalscorer went down the tunnel exchanging pleasantries with Arsenal team-mate Alexandre Song, who was among the Cameroon substitutes.
Man of the moment Van Persie could have doubled the score when sent through by Mark van Bommel but this time Hamidou stood firm in the Cameroon goal.
On 59 minutes he was replaced by AC Milan forward Klaas Jan Huntelaar having done enough to leave to leave the Dutch top of their group.
Cameroon kept pressing, driven on by Eto'o who was desperate to sign off from what could be his last World Cup on a positive note. A chance the Inter Milan man may well have finished fell instead to Makoun and was squandered.
But on 65 minutes he had his chance from the spot and took it shooting past Maarten Stekelenburg after Van der Vaart had used an arm in the area to Geremi's free-kick, leaving Chilean referee Pablo Pozo with little option but to award a penalty.
That was Van der Vaart's last contribution as Robben came on for the last 17 minutes having missed the opening two games with a hamstring injury.
Robben was soon into his stride, cracking a post on 83 minutes and from the rebound Huntelaar put the Dutch back into the lead.
This time they held on leaving Group F with a 100 per cent record and with Van Persie and Robben finding form and fitness just at the right time.
"I felt great," Robben said after the match. "I'm not 100 per cent fit, but it was great to be back. We decided to take a risk. It's the World Cup, and that doesn't take place very ofen. I wanted to be a part of it."