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Sweden book playoff spot despite Robben-inspired defeat to Netherlands

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Sweden book playoff spot despite Robben-inspired defeat to Netherlands

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Arjen Robben scored twice to hand the Netherlands a 2-0 win over Sweden in their World Cup qualifier on Tuesday but the Dutch fell well short of the seven goals they needed to usurp their opponents and advance to the playoffs. The two countries finished level on 19 points, behind Group A winners France, but Sweden finished second to snatch the playoff place because of a superior goal defence. They finished with a tally of +17, eight goals better off than the Dutch who had to win by a seven-goal margin to overturn the deficit. The home side started brightly in the Amsterdam Arena with Robben converting a 16th-minute penalty and then hammering home a superb left-footed shot five minutes before halftime to raise the hopes of the home fans. The Dutch, however, lacked the necessary creativity as Sweden shut up shop in the second half as the match, which could be the last international for the 33-year-old Robben after 96 caps, fizzled out.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Toby Davis)
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