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Holland 2-1 Ivory Coast

Holland sealed a World Cup second-round berth after repelling a brave fightback by Ivory Coast in Stuttgart.

The Dutch went ahead with a stunning free-kick from Robin van Persie on 23 minutes before Ruud van Nistelrooy hit a sweet second four minutes later.

Bakari Kone pulled one back for the Ivorians when he smashed home from 25 yards after a powerful run.

But the Africans bowed out of the tournament as Holland held on for their second Group C victory.

The victory stretched Holland's run to 14 competitive matches unbeaten and sent a defiant message to group rivals Argentina who had emphatically despatched Serbia and Montenegro 6-0 earlier in the day.

Holland dominated the early exchanges and created the first real chance after five minutes when Mark van Bommel's teasing cross from the right flashed across the goal and just eluded Manchester United striker Van Nistelrooy.

But they survived a penalty appeal after 12 minutes when Arsenal's Emmanuel Eboue looked to be hauled down by Giovanni van Bronckhorst although the Ivorians' frantic appeals were ignored by Colombian referee Oscar Ruiz.

The 31-year-old Van Bronckhorst, a midfielder by trade, was clearly marked out as the possible weak link in the Dutch defence and constantly had his hands full with Arouna Kone hot on his heels.

But Ivory Coast were suddenly stopped in their tracks when the Dutch eventually made the vital breakthrough.

Edwin van der Sar dives in vain for Bakari Kone's stunning strike

Van Persie was hacked down by his Arsenal team-mate Kolo Toure on the edge of the box and stepped up himself to curl home a sublime left-footed free-kick which had goalkeeper Jean-Jacques Tizie clutching thin air.

And the Dutch tightened their grip on the game with a clinical second goal after 27 minutes.

Arjen Robben, Serbia and Montenegro's tormentor-in-chief in Holland's 1-0 victory on Sunday, surged forward on the left flank and played in Mark van Bommel.

Van Bommel worked it back to the Chelsea man, who cleverly threaded it through for Van Nistelroooy to lash home his first goal of the tournament.

Yet, just when it seemed Holland would start walking away with the match, the Ivorians struck back in dramatic fashion on 38 minutes.

Kone waltzed past two Dutch defenders before unleashing a stunning drive that flew into Edwin van der Sar's top corner - incredibly the first goal in competitive internationals the Manchester United stopper has conceded since October 2004.

The Dutch took the initiative after the break and Van Nisteltooy had a firm shot parried by the Ivory Coast goalkeeper after being set up by half-time substitute Khalid Boulahrouz.

But with Dider Zokora pulling the strings for the Ivorians, Holland were never comfortable.

The matched swayed from end to end with Robben always threatening to work an opening for the Dutch.

In the 77th minute Van Persie was forced to chest off his own line when Drogba's header found its way through a packed Holland goalmouth.

And in desperation, Kolo Toure tried his luck from 25 yards in injury time but his effort was deflected behind for a wasted corner.

Holland: Van der Sar, Heitinga (Boulahrouz 45), Ooijer, Mathijsen, Van Bronckhorst, Sneijder (Van der Vaart 50), Van Bommel, Cocu, Van Persie, Robben, van Nistelrooy (Landzaat 73).
Subs Not Used: Babel, De Cler, Jaliens, Kromkamp, Kuyt, Maduro, Stekelenburg, Timmer, Vennegoor of Hesselink.

Booked: Robben, Mathijsen, Van Bommel, Boulahrouz.

Goals: Van Persie 23, van Nistelrooy 26.

Ivory Coast: Tizie, Eboue, Kolo Toure, Meite, Boka, Zokora, Gneri Yaya Toure, Romaric (Yapi Yapo 61), Arouna Kone (Akale 73), Bakari Kone (Dindane 62), Drogba.
Subs Not Used: Barry, Demel, Domoraud, Fae, Gnanhouan, Kalou, Keita, Kouassi, Zoro.

Booked: Zokora, Drogba, Boka.

Goals: Bakari Kone 38.

Att: 52,000

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