Holland opened their World Cup campaign with a comfortable 1-0 win over Serbia & Montenegro.
Arjen Robben’s goal on seventeen minutes was enough for the Dutch to record a valuable three points that will go a long way towards helping them qualify for the last 16.
Holland, with Robben seeing a lot of the ball, dominated the early possession. But it was Serbia & Montenegro who created the first real opening when Djordjevic broke free on the right but his cross was cleared as Kezman and Milosevic got in each other’s way.
After 14 minutes Milosevic had a good chance to open the scoring but he shot tamely at Van der Saar.
Two minutes later Robben made him pay for the miss when he beat the offside trap to sprint through on goal before slotting the ball past Jevric. It was a slick finish but the Serbs were complicit in their own downfall by playing so far up the pitch against a player of Robben’s pace.
The Chelsea winger almost doubled the lead when he shot from distance but Jevric did well to parry his fierce drive for a corner.
Robben, who was a proving a real handful for Holland and was beating his man at will, almost scored a second when he cut inside from the left and struck a right-footed shot just inches wide.
Serbia & Montenegro seemed deflated after going behind and Holland had little trouble dominating possession for the remainder of the half.
Coach Ilijia Petkovic introduced the towering striker Zigic for the disappointing Milosevic at half time, but Holland continued to take the game to their opponents and if a second goal was coming it looked likely to be for the Dutch. The outstanding Robben twice went close and a tiring defence had no answer to his forceful runs as time and again he took the game to Serbia & Montenegro.
Koroman, who had come on as a substitute late in the first half, helped galvanise the Serbs and he produced their best effort of the game midway through the first half, only to be denied somewhat unconvincingly by van der Sar.
At the other end van Persie came close for Holland from a free-kick, but his shot eluded the onrushing Dutch forwards and flashed inches past the post.
Despite suffering a few edgy moments towards the end of the game, Holland emerged comfortable and deserved winners. With tough matches against Argentina and the Ivory Coast to come, the win puts them in pole position to qualify for the last 16.
For Serbia & Montenegro the omens don’t look good and only victories in their remaining two games will see them through. On this evidence though, that looks unlikely.
Holland: Van der Sar, Heitinga, Mathijsen, Ooijer, Van Bronckhorst, Sneijder, Van Bommel, Cocu, Van Persie, van Nistelrooy, Robben.
Subs: Landzaat 60 (for Van Bommel), Kuyt 69 (for van Nistelrooy) Boulahrouz 86 (for Mathijsen)
Bookings: Van Bronckhorst 56, Heitinga 85
Serbia & Montenegro: Jevric, Dragutinovic, Gavrancic, Nenad Djordjevic, Krstajic, Duljaj, Stankovic, Predrag Djordjevic, Nadj, Kezman, Milosevic.
Subs: Zigic 46 (for Milosevic) Koroman 40 (for Djordevic) Ljuboja 66 (for Kezman)
Bookings: Stankovic 34, Koroman 64, Dragutinovic 80, Gavrancic 90.
Referee: Markus Merk (Germany)
Holland : Robben 17.