World Cup - Early Van Persie goal hands Dutch win over Ghana

Robin van Persie scored early to set the Netherlands on their way to victory over Ghana in a World Cup warm-up in Rotterdam on Saturday though a series of missed opportunities by Arjen Robben kept the score to 1-0.

Reuters
World Cup - Early Van Persie goal hands Dutch win over Ghana
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Robin van Persie scores against Ghana (Reuters)

It had threatened to be a runaway triumph for the Dutch, who like Ghana were playing their penultimate preparatory match before heading to the tournament in Brazil.

Instead, after van Persie had tapped home from close range in the fifth minute, it turned into an unconvincing display from the 2010 World Cup runners-up and their African opponents.

Van Persie's goal came at the conclusion of a sweeping move involving Wesley Sneijder and Robben when Jeffrey Schlupp, the Leicester City full back playing his second match for Ghana, slipped at the crucial moment to allow for an easy finish.

It extended van Persie's record-breaking goalscoring streak for the Netherlands to 43 in 84 internationals.

Robben then conjured up the most extraordinary miss from even closer range seven minutes later when Danny Blind swept in a pass in from the left flank but Robben somehow managed to touch it wide of goal.

He was clear on goal some 12 minutes later but saw his attempted chip over the goalkeeper hit Adam Kwarasey on the chest instead.

Robben then forced a good save out of Kwarasey on the stroke of halftime and 12 minutes into the second half lunged despairingly at a shot from Sneijder but failed to get a touch to steer it goalwards.

Kwarasey denied Robben again 12 minutes from time with a strong save at his near post.

Ghana had no clear efforts on the Dutch goal but managed to disrupt the early rhythm that Louis van Gaal's team showed and rendered a sizeable home crowd largely silent for most of the match.

Instead, a small contingent of Ghanaian fans were conspicuous by their singing throughout the second half, chanting "Hallelujah" over and over again as if seeking divine intervention for their team.

It could prove necessary for even though Ghana started without top striker Asamoah Gyan, appointing Michael Essien captain instead, and only brought Kevin Prince Boateng on in the second half, they showed little to suggest they could equal or better their heroics of four years ago when they became only the third African country to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

The Dutch complete their warm-up programme with a friendly against Wales in Amsterdam on Wednesday while Ghana fly to the U.S. on Sunday for a week more of training and will meet South Korea in Miami on June 9 before going on to Brazil.

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