The Netherlands didn’t live up to the hype but still had enough to, in the end, ease past workmanlike Denmark 2-0 as Group E began Monday. Denmark actually outplayed the Netherlands in the first half, with Arsenal forward Nicklas Bendtner sending his header, a half chance, wide. [ad#as3]
Bendtner was Denmark’s only real threat, and once he went off early in the second half, the Danes had nothing going forward. Danish coach Morten Olsen couldn’t take a chance and play Bendtner the entire 90 minutes, since he was fresh off a groin injury.
The turning point came less than a minute into the second half, when inexperienced left back Simon Poulsen headed the ball into his own net. At least he could smile about it. The Dutch only got into first gear when speedy winger Eljero Elia replaced the ineffective Rafael van der Vaart in the 67th minute. Elia caused havoc every time he touched the ball, and his good work set up Dirk Kuyt’s tap in in the 85th minute. Bendtner’s club teammate Robin van Persie struggled, wasting a good opportunity in the first half when he tried to shift the ball to his favored left foot. Arjen Robben was on the bench. Denmark now needs to beat Japan and Cameroon to realistically advance.
Netherlands 2 (S. Poulsen og 46, Kuyt 85)