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Dutch off to a flying start

June 14, 2010

Industrious: Dirk Kuyt bagged Holland's second to ensure perfect start for the much-fancied Dutch

Netherlands 2-0 Denmark

(HT 0-0)

Agger (og), 46
Kuyt, 86

Venue: Soccer City, Johannesburg

Att 83,465

HOLLAND opened their World Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory against lacklustre Denmark at Soccer City. A Daniel Agger own goal and a Dirk Kuyt tap in gave Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk the perfect start in Group E. 

With the footballing world druling at the prospect of total football from the Dutch, the two-times World Cup finalists kept their attacking flair on ice in this cagey affair. It was a tale of two Arsenal strikers in the first-half as Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner and Holland’s Robin Van Persie squandered the pick of the chances. On 28 minutes former Charlton Athletic winger Dennis Rommedahl exploded into life and his pin-point cross from the right was headed wide by Bendtner. 22-year-old Bendtner will be hoping to prove himself on the big-stage after another average season in the Barclays Premiership. The Emirates faithful will have been delighted to see their talisman Robin Van Persie in action following an ankle injury which has kept the Gunners numer-11 out of action for five months. On the stroke of half-time it was Van Persie who profited from a fortunate deflection off a Danish defender and from an acute angle the ring rusty striker fired wide of Sorenson’s near post.

After enduring the rigours of the arduous Slovenia v Algeria game yesterday, football legend Zinedine Zidane was back for more, this time a spectator in Johannesburg. How he would have been itching to inject some ingenuity into proceedings. The French World Cup winning captain had barely taken his seat following the interval when Holland opened their World Cup account courtesy of a fortuitous own goal. Denmark’s often dependable centre-back Simon Poulsen was caught flat-footed as he diverted Van Persie’s floated cross past a despairing Thomas Sorensen off the back of fellow defender Daniel Agger.

Morten Olsen’s Danish outfit lacked attacking prowess as former premier league household names Jesper Gronkjaer and Dennis Rommedahl failed to add a cutting edge in attack. On 86 minutes Dirk Kuyt was rewarded for his usual 100 per cent work rate as he tapped home the Netherlands second. Substitute Eljero Elia’s prodded shot was tipped on to the post and Kuyt punished the tournament’s lowest ranked European country. 

The Dutch have flattered to deceive in previous tournaments. At the French Word Cup of 1998, the Netherlands packed with stars such as Kluivert, Bergkamp and the Deboer brothers, were agonizingly knocked out on penalties by Brazil at the semi-final stage. Assisted by former players Philip Cocu and Frank Deboer, manager Bert van Marwijk will be hoping to live up to the many pundits expectations as an outside bet for the competition.         

After watching a drab 1-0 Japan win against Cameroon, Denmark will be hopeful of progressing to the round of 16. The Danish achieved their best performance at France 98 with a quarter-final exit.

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