The Netherlands beat Ivory Coast 2-1

Ruud van Nistelrooy and Robin van Persie scored a goal each to send the Netherlands into the second round of the World Cup after a 2-1 win

updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
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Stuttgart, Germany:

Ruud van Nistelrooy and Robin van Persie scored a goal each to send the Netherlands into the second round of the World Cup after a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast in Group C. The Dutch again relied on the wings, while Van Nistelrooy and Van Persie got their first World Cup goals. The African team struck back with a gem from Bakary Kone in the first half. The win also put two-time champion Argentina, which beat Serbia-Montenegro 6-0, into the next round. Ivory Coast and Serbia are eliminated. Van Persie set up his free kick with a searing run from the right into the center, where he was floored on the edge of the area by Kolo Toure in the 23rd minute. Already brimming with confidence, the Arsenal player lined up a drive that clattered into the upper right corner before goalkeeper Jean-Jacques Tizie could get a hand up in time. The Dutch started playing at their best and finished off Ivory Coast with a six-pass move from defense four minutes later. In the end, Arjen Robben sent Van Nistelrooy through on the edge of offside and the Manchester United forward scored. Ivory Coast came back fighting, and Kone used his pace to score with a cross-angled drive well outside the reach of Netherlands goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar. Late in the match, Van Persie chested a ball off the line in a goalmouth scramble and was putting in blocks in defense even in injury time. "We pinned them down far back. "It was what won the match", said Van Nistelrooy. Ten minutes before the end, the tens of thousands of Dutch fans started singing "Hup Holland Hup," sensing the second round was theirs. In a first half that delighted the sellout crowd of 52,000 at the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadium, both sides wanted a penalty and Didier Zokora rifled a shot from 20 meters onto the bar, with Van der Sar beaten. It was that close throughout. It was a match which always had lots of promise and it more than delivered. In the end, the Dutch defense proved to be more adept to contain Didier Drogba. In an almost symbolic moment on the half-hour mark, Drogba delighted the fans with nifty ball juggling in the box, but when he tried to beat a defender with a fancy overhead move, a second defender, Johnny Heitinga, had already positioned himself to clear the ball. In a battle between two of the world's greatest power forwards, it was Van Nistelrooy who came out on top. Drogba often lost possession, and on a key breakaway with two-against-one late in the first half, failed to find the open Arouna Kone. Even if Robben didn't score again, he set up Van Nistelrooy and could have earned a penalty in the 34th when he was sandwiched in the box between two defenders. Instead, the referee gave the Chelsea winger a yellow card. Ivory Coast also wanted a penalty in the 11th minute when left back Giovanni van Bronckhorst had his arm around Emmauel Eboue before the Arsenal defender went down. The Africans kept pressing forward in the second half, bent on staying alive in the World Cup. Instead, they went out after showing classy play in two narrow losses. In a flowing game, chances went both ways and defender Arthur Boka was lucky only to get a yellow card when he pulled down Van Persie on a straight run on goal.