Holland's hopes of advancing to the Euro 2012 knockout stages have suffered a potentially fatal blow, after a 2-1 loss to tournament favourites Germany in Kharkiv on Wednesday.
The Dutch fell two goals behind before the break, thanks to a couple of wonderful strikes from Mario Gomez, after he was released by Bayern Munich teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger on both occasions.
Holland pulled a goal back through a venomous strike from Robin van Persie in the final quarter. But despite the late surge from Bert van Marwijk's side, Joachim Low's men hung on to their lead and are now on the verge of reaching the quarterfinals from Group B.
There was only one change in the line-ups from their opening games for both sides as van Marwijk, replaced centre-back Ron Vlaar with Joris Mathijsen. van Persie started, ahead of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, with Rafael van der Vaart and Dirk Kuyt also on the bench.
The match started brightly and on seven minutes, the first chance fell for van Persie after he was sent clear on goal by a lifted pass from Mark van Bommel, however the Arsenal captain's effort went straight at Manuel Neuer. Germany had their chance soon after, with Mesut Ozil striking the base of the post with a shot from outside the area.
Low's side took the lead midway into the first-half, after Schweinsteiger was given acres of space outside the Holland box. The Germany anchorman came up with a delightful pass to find Gomez, whose brilliant turn put him one-on-one with Maarten Stekelenburg and the Bayern striker found the back of the net with a clinical finish.
Germany should have been 2-0 up on 37 minutes after a Mesut Ozil free-kick perfectly picked out Holger Badstuber inside the six-yard box but the defender's header was blocked near the line by a diving Stekelenburg.
A minute later, Gomez grabbed his and his team's second. The Bayern duo were in the thick of action once more as another inch-perfect pass from Schweinsteiger released Gomez, who showed great composure to pull off a powerful strike from a tight angle to beat the Dutch shot-stopper once again.
The second-half began with two changes for the Dutch as van Bommel and Ibrahim Afellay were replaced by van der Vaart and Huntelaar.
Germany started the half patiently keeping possession and tried to catch Holland on the break whenever they had the chance. The Oranje worked their way back into the game and offered more players while going forward.
The Dutch got themselves back in the game on 73 minutes after Sneijder played in van Persie and the Arsenal striker dribbled inside and sent a powerful shot that beat Neuer to make it 2-1.
The goal served as a motivation for van Marwijk's side as they pushed forward in numbers in search of the equaliser and looked threatening. However Germany kept hold of the ball well and gave little opportunities to their opponents. Stekelenburg nearly gifted Low's men with a third goal, casually approaching a back-pass and almost allowing substitute Miroslav Klose to score.
The Dutch now face an early exit, as even if they beat Portugal in their final group game on Sunday, their fate is not in their hands. Their qualification depends on Germany defeating Denmark and a better goal-difference over the Danes and the Portuguese.