Evening Standard

Holland needed a huge slice of luck to get their World Cup campaign off to a winning start today.

After an even first-half, the Dutch took the lead through a bizarre own goal, which was credited to the unlucky Daniel Agger.

It was another Liverpool player, Dirk Kuyt, who settled the Group E opener and although the margin of victory slightly flattered the Dutch the result will boost their confidence.

Holland always bring colour and excitement to any tournament yet Soccer City here seemed a curiously deserted place this afternoon.

Before the match Arsenal’s Robin van Persie had set the Dutch a minimum target of reaching the semi-finals.

“That’s a must for us, especially when you look at our 23 players and the clubs they play for,” he said. The Dutch dominated the early exchanges with their free-flowing football — despite the absence of Arjen Robben with a hamstring injury — while the Danes relied on organisation with Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner up front on his own.

It was a surprise Bendtner was even playing, having yesterday been ruled out of the match by coach Morten Olsen because of a groin injury.

The Dutch started with only three home-based players, two from Ajax and one from Feyenoord, while four, Everton duo Johnny Heitinga and Nigel de Jong plus Kuyt and Van Persie were from the Premier League.

And it was Van Persie, who set up a great chance in the 20th minute, slipping the ball through to Rafael van der Vaart on the edge of the area only for the Real Madrid man to see his shot deflected wide.

But for all the Dutch possession and artistry it was often the Danes on the break who made the more threatening moves.

Agger’s fine long pass found Dennis Rommedahl, bombing down the right, and his cross was met at the back post by Bendtner but he headed wide.

The best Danish move came after 32 minutes when Bendtner released Thomas Kahlenberg, whose shot forced Maarten Stekelenburg to tip the ball round his post.

The Dutch went close with a Van Persie effort just before the break but the Arsenal man played a pivotal role in the opener in the 46th minute.

He picked up a long ball on the left and his deep cross was inexplicably headed towards goal by Dane Simon Poulson, where it deflected off Agger’s back beyond Thomas Sorensen and into the net.

It was a cruel blow for Denmark, who were killed off in the 85th minute. A fine move saw substitute Ejero Elia’s shot deflected on to the post by Sorensen and from the rebound Kuyt had the easiest job to tuck it in.


Share |
Categories: Football | No Comments »



Latest Tweets

Follow me on twitter

Home | About | Books | History | BroadcastingJournalismPublic Speaking | Contact | Website development by Pedalo