Plucky Danes keep orange tide at bay
DENMARK survived a sustained assault by Netherlands to win 1-0 in their opening Euro 2012 Group B game yesterday, thanks to a first-half goal by Michael Krohn-Dehli and poor Dutch finishing.
Krohn-Dehli cut in from the left to surprise keeper Maarten Stekelenburg with a low shot through his legs after 24 minutes in a rare Danish attack, and Dutch winger Arjen Robben hit a post after 37 minutes in one of many chances for his side.
The defeat leaves Netherlands needing results against Germany and Portugal in a tough group. They have the quality to achieve that but their lack of sharpness in front of goal will need to be addressed.
The 2010 World Cup runners-up dominated from the outset, working the ball through midfield and creating openings around a static Danish defence, but they struggled to turn opportunities into shots.
Robin Van Persie set the tone in the seventh minute when Robben found him with an incisive pass but the striker screwed his shot wide.
Robben was more accurate nine minutes later with a low left-foot shot but Danish goalkeeper Stephan Andersen got down well to save.
Van Persie produced a trademark turn to make space for a shot in the 23rd minute but his off-target effort was far from his usual standard.
The Danes looked disjointed and ineffective in midfield but grabbed the lead against the run of play.
Left back Simon Poulsen raced down the wing and pulled the ball back into the path of Krohn-Dehli, who skipped past John Heitinga and fired into the net.
The Dutch had four good chances in the 10 minutes after the break but their frustration was encapsulated by Van Persie falling over after being put through by the enterprising Wesley Schneider.
In the 71st minute Netherlan ds coach Bert van Marwijk introduced striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, the top scorer in both Euro qualifying and last season's Bundesliga.
In the late match, a 73rd-minute goal by Mario Gomez gave Germany a 1-0 victory against Portugal in group B.