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Denmark Fail To Impress In Group E Curtain-Raiser

Soccer City hosted Denmark and The Netherlands in the opening game of Group E with the Netherlands being many people’s outside bet to go all the way in the tournament. Although much was not expected of Denmark in the build-up, for 45 minutes Denmark had looked equal to Netherlands attacking qualities and were unlucky not to bring a 1-0 lead into the half-time break with the Dane’s carving out several chances in the first half. Nicklas Bendtner went closest in the 26th minute when Dennis Rommedahl’s cross was met by the head of Bendtner who had to adjust himself and saw his effort narrowly trickle wide of the mark. Dennis Rommedahl was next to test the Netherlands when a superb cross field ball was played to him by Kahlenberg and Rommedahl struck a fierce shot which was dealt with well by the Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg. Nicklas Bendtner then treaded a ball through for Thomas Kahlenberg who unleashed a left-footed shot which Stekelenburg expertly tipped wide.

Daniel Agger and Simon Kjaer centre-back partnership limited the Netherlands to few first-half chances with Robin Van Persie having the best of them but Agger forced the Dutchman on to his weaker right-foot and ensured his effort missed the target.

The deadlock was broken by the Netherlands less than a minute after the restart when the ball was played over the top to Robin Van Persie who’s touch had took it past the on rushing Thomas Sorenson and the Dutchman whipped a ball into the area which Simon Poulsen diverted into his own net via Daniel Agger in a farcical manor which prompted a puzzled smile from the Danish right-back.

Denmark failed to threaten the Dutch defence in the second-half and manager Morten Olsen kept an eye on Nicklas Bendtner’s fitness throughout and withdrew the Arsenal striker in the 61st minute for Mikkel Beckmann who struggled to make an impact for the duration of the match. Netherlands continued to threaten the Danish defence and their persistence paid off in the 85th minute when Dirk Kuyt was deployed as centre-forward with the departure of Robin Van Persie and the Liverpool man was on hand to convert an open goal after Eljero Elia’s effort rebounded off the post.

Simon Poulsen made amends for his calamitous error earlier in the match when he acrobatically denied the Netherlands a third by clearing Ibrahim Afellay’s effort off the line and the Netherlands ran out 2-0 winners in the opening game of Group E and extended their unbeaten streak to twenty matches.

Morten Olsen had a pen and pad in his presence for the duration and he knows he’ll have to consult his notes and improve on his side’s offensive abilities as a lack of creativity was evident in Denmark’s disappointing second-half performance.

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