Netherlands through to World Cup

The Netherlands qualified for the World Cup on Saturday after beating the Czech Republic 2-0 on first-half goals from Rafael van der Vaart and Barry Opdam.

The Dutch lead Group 1 with 31 points, six ahead of Romania and seven in front of the Czechs, which must win their last qualifier in Finland on Wednesday to secure a playoff spot.

Van der Vaart exchanged passes with Chelsea winger Arjen Robben before his low shot beat goalkeeper Petr Cech in the 31st minute. An unmarked Opdam headed in the second off a corner kick from Robben in the 38th.

The Czech Republic's Tomas Rosicky missed a penalty in the 30th when Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar saved well. Khalid Boulahrouz had fouled striker Milan Baros in the area, AP reports.

A. A.

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