Slovakia bowed out of the FIFA World Cup™ with a Round of 16 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands on Monday as coach Vladimir Weiss hailed Dutch winger Arjen Robben an "absolute genius". Robben scored the first Dutch goal, controlling a long Wesley Sneijder pass and cutting in past defenders Jan Durica and Radoslav Zabavnik to drill a left-footed shot in at the near post past the despairing dive of Jan Mucha.
Weiss, whose team had claimed the famous scalp of defending champions Italy in the group stage to ensure their progression to the knock-out phase on their FIFA World Cup debut, said the Bayern Munich winger had been "decisive".
"We prepared for three days for Robben, but he's an absolute genius," said Weiss. "He knows exactly what he's doing, that's why he's played for all those great clubs. When I saw his name on the team startlist I knew it made the Netherlands 50 per cent stronger."
Weiss admitted that his team failed to capitalise on three opportunities at 1-0, Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg producing some fine saves before Sneijder made it 2-0 in the 85th minute, although the Slovaks pulled one back with a late consolation penalty from Robert Vittek.
"With a bit of luck we could have been in it," he said. "The penalty will make us feel a little better on the flight home, but the one who advances is the better team. The Netherlands were great opponents. My players showed great heart and courage, and good football against Italy and the Dutch.
"I'm very proud that we were in a position to play in the Round of 16 and the players showed what they were capable of. No coach is ever happy to lose having had three high-quality chances. But we didn't manage it."
In the group stages, Slovakia were held to a 1-1 draw before losing to table-toppers Paraguay. In a do-or-die match, the Slovaks beat Italy 3-2 to ensure their own qualification and also sending the Azzurri back home.
"We were searching for something else here today, but it was not to be," said Weiss.