Group B - Netherlands 0 - 1 DenmarkSat, Jun 09 2012
An orange laden Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv was the scene for the Group B opener as Denmark shocked the Dutch with a one-nil victory thanks to a first half goal from Michael Krohn-Dehli.
Within ten minutes, the Dutch had created numerous chances with the best of these falling to the in-form Robin van Persie. A deflected Arjen Robben cross fell rather unexpectedly to the left foot of the Premier League’s top scorer, but his strike couldn’t find the target.
Once again, Holland just could not put the ball in the net. After a fantastically weighted cross from van Persie, Wesley Sneijder could not make proper contact with the ball, and the effort went wide of goal.
Despite the majority of possession falling to the Dutch, a fantastic run and finish from Michael Krohn-Dehli saw the Danish take the lead in the twenty-fourth minute. His jinking dribble beat three Dutch defenders and his well placed shot found its way in between Stekelenburg’s legs to put the Danes one-nil up.
After a howler of a clearance from Danish keeper Andersen, Arjen Robben was allowed too much space while running toward goal. His well placed effort struck the outside of the post much to his dismay.
Denmark began to look more confident on the ball, providing Rommedahl and Bendtner with two opportunities before the half time whistle. The latter had a glorious chance to double the lead, but could not adjust his body to get the required power behind the ball. The Danes held a single goal lead at the half time break.
The Dutch began the second half in the same vain as they began the first; dominating the ball, and providing van Persie with chance after chance. Two big opportunities in the first five minutes saw van Persie slip at the crucial moment as the Netherlands began to up their performance level.
Mark van Bommel and Ibrahim Afellay were the next to be denied as their efforts just could not find a way past Andersen. Afellay saw his effort clip the outside of the post as half the ground thought it had found the back of the net.
Arjen Robben was certainly the guilty party for the Dutch as his frequent waste of valuable opportunities began to infuriate the Netherlands’ support and his team-mates alike. Just after the hour mark, the Bayern Munich winger skipped past the Danish midfield. He cut in and unleashed a tame effort that was well off target.
A long distance Krohn-Dehli effort had Stekelenburg at full stretch. The Roma ‘keeper did very well to deny the Danes a second goal.
Just moments later, Wesley Sneijder provided a pass which will be shown over and over again, with the outside of his boot. The world class through ball found the clever run of Bundesliga top scorer Klaas Jan Huntelaar, but once more, the Dutch were foiled by the heroics of Andersen in the Danish goal.
The Netherlands will feel very hard done by to not have been awarded a penalty in the later stages as Jacobsen used his arm to take the ball out of Huntelaar’s path inside the box. The referee waved away the protests.
Johnny Heitinga had the best opportunity in the final few moments with a header from close range, but typically, the effort went high and wide.
It would appear the over reliance on wingers in a 4-2-3-1 system was the downfall of the Dutch as Robben was used as the focal point for most attacks, despite being particularly off form. A good passionate display from Denmark has blown group B wide open.
Netherlands: Maarten Stekelenburg; Gregory van Der Wiel (Dirk Kuyt 84), John Heitinga, Ron Vlaar, Jetro Willems; Nigel de Jong (Rafael van der Vaart 71), Mark van Bommel; Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Ibrahim Afellay (Klass Jan Huntelaar 71); Robin van Persie.
Subs not Used: Luciano Narsingh, Joris Mathijsen, Tim Krul, Luuk De Jong, Wilfred Bouma, Khalid Boulahrouz, Stijn Schaars, Kevin Strootman, Michel Vorm.
Denmark: Stephan Andersen; Lars Jacobsen, Simon Kjaer, Daniel Agger, Simon Poulsen; Christian Eriksen (Lasse Schone 74); William Kvist, Niki Zimling; Michael Krohn-Dehli, Dennis Rommedahl (Tobias Mikkelsen 84), Nicklas Bendtner.
Subs not Used: Anders Lindegaard, Thomas Kahlenberg, Andreas Bjelland, Jores Okore, Nicklas Pedersen, Christian Poulsen, Jakob Poulsen, Michael Silberbauer, Daniel Wass.
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands).
Andrew joined Extratime for the 2010 season and covers all the on-goings down in Limerick. Having first experienced the League of Ireland in 2002, Andrew became hooked, even at such an early age. He is currently studying English and New Media at the University of Limerick. You can contact him via Twitter @Cunneen92.