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Cameroon's Eric Choupo-Moting, left, and Netherlands' Giovanni van Bronckhorst chase the ball during the Group E finale for both teams in Cape Town, South Africa. ((Frank Augstein/Associated Press))

The Netherlands remained perfect in Group E play with a 2-1 win over Cameroon on Thursday to advance to the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup.

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Main storyline

The Netherlands became the second team at the World Cup to win all three of its group matches. Argentina is the only other team to accomplish that feat so far. 

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The Oranje, which had already assured a spot in the next round before its final game against Cameroon, used its dominant midfield to take control of the match from the start and, though the Indomitable Lions scored on a second-half penalty by captain Samuel Eto'o, the result was never in doubt.

The Netherlands is now unbeaten in 22 international matches (17 wins).

Dutch midfielder Arjen Robben, who missed the opening two games with a hamstring injury, saw his first taste of World Cup action when he was brought into the game in the 73rd minute.

A classy move was made by Cameroon to get Rigobert Song into the game in the final 10 minutes. He's the first African player to enjoy a World Cup career stretching over 16 years, joining Antonio Carbajal and Hugo Sanchez of Mexico and Lothar Matthaus of Germany as the only players to do so.

What this result means

With the victory, the Netherlands takes the No. 1 seed in Group E, pitting the team against the second seed in Group F, Slovakia, in the Round of 16 (June 28, CBC, CBCSports.ca 9:30 a.m. ET).

Japan earned second seed in the group after posting a 3-1 result over Denmark. Japan will play Group F winners Paraguay in the next round (June 29, CBC, CBCSports.ca 9:30 a.m. ET).

Cameroon finishes the tournament without a win, becoming the fourth African country to be eliminated, joining Algeria, Nigeria and South Africa. Ghana is the only African team to advance to the Round of 16.

The winning goal

In the 83rd minute, Wesley Sneijder played a long cross-field ball to Robben on the right-hand side of the pitch. Robben controlled the ball, pushed it onto his left foot and cracked a curling ball off the far post. Substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, the top goal scorer for the Netherlands in qualifying, followed up the rebound and buried it at a tough angle in the back of the Cameroon net to make it 2-1.

Turning point

Huntelaar's winning goal deflated the spirits of the Indomitable Lions, who were attempting to earn at least a point in their final tournament game. 

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Goal of the match

Robin van Persie's marker at the 36th minute was less about the finish and more about the build up through the midfield starting with Dirk Kuyt. The Liverpool workhorse knocked the ball to van Pierse, who essentially made something out of nothing. He linked a textbook give-and-go with Rafael van der Vaart finishing it off by scoring goal through the legs of Cameroon keeper Hamidou Souleymanou.

Man of the match

Van Persie gets the honour for not only his opening goal, but also his willingness to take risks and charge ahead in the offensive third of the field. He was always a threat, whether he was holding up the ball with his back to the goal or running on to through balls.

The Dutch perspective

"We were far too nonchalant in the second half. Our final spell put us on the right track again, but consider this a serious warning." — Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk.

The Cameroonian perspective

"I ended my mission. Now I will reflect carefully." — Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen.

Corrections

  • In a previous version of this story, it was written that Cameroon's Rigobert Song was the first African player to play in four World Cups. Instead, it should read that Song is the first African player to enjoy a World Cup career stretching over 16 years.
    Jun 24, 2010 6:21 PM ET