Dutch Delight after howler from Poulson

by Michael Somerville

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Holland 2
Denmark 0

A dull first half from both sides meant that it took a long time for this game to spark into life. Holland have been touted as ‘ones to watch’ like in every World Cup but ‘Oranje’ were definitely missing the pace and incision of Arjen Robben as they found it difficult to break the Danes down. The Nike ad urges Holland to attack like lions but there wasn’t much attacking verve to be seen in the first half. The mainly Dutch crowd was getting bored with proceedings, kicking off a Mexican wave throughout the huge Soccer City stadium. Blackburn Rovers’ Lars Jacobson had a good solid game in the first half as he helped limit Holland to long range opportunities.

Nicklas Bendtner had a superb opportunity to put Denmark 1- 0 up just before the half an hour mark but his header/shoulder blade just guided the ball past the left hand post. Wesley Sneijder was attempting to score from almost 50 yards out with a free kick- you would have forgiven an irate shout into his ear from a team-mate. That was the selfish individualism that Bert van Marwijk didn’t want to see, as the coach has desperately been trying to instill some team sprit into the Dutch team.

Robin Van Persie made a decent opportunity for himself just before half time, but his right footed shot flashed past the post from 12 yards. Dennis Rommedahl was causing the Dutch back-line some problems on the right wing but the Dutch centre backs of Heitinger and Mathijesen just about contained Denmark in the first half. There was simply very little attacking impetus coming from either team and it was fitting that the first goal came from a oppositions mistake.

Van Persie made the Dutch goal after stellar work down the by-line in which his cross managed to be sent home by unlucky Christian Poulson who unfortunately charged into Liverpool’s Dan Agger. It was a cruel blow for Denmark who had matched Holland in every department, and would be very disappointed in the way they let Van Persie get his cross in.

The vuvulezas continued to sum up the tedious nature of Holland’s ponderous performance. I wish the atmosphere was like that of Espana 82!

Robin Van Persie was many peoples potential star of the tournament, and he should have converted a 51st minute chance but his first touch was dreadful, allowing goalkeeper Thomas Sorenson to gather the ball with great relief.

Denmark withdrew solitary attacking threat Nicklas Bendtner as means of protection from his niggling groin injury, and it was a strangely isolated Agger who was limited to long range strikes. He never bothered goalkeeper Stekelenburg in the slightest.

An impressive Eljero Elia came on to replace Van Der Vaart and dazzled William Kvist with some much needed pace but his crossing wasn’t quite decisive enough. Robin Van Persie had another half chance to double the score but couldn’t get his header on target.

The youngest player at the tournament Christian Eriksson (contracted to Ajax) added some youthful energy to the Danish midfield but was unable to drag his team to an equaliser. Wesley Snejider finally put in a shot on goal in the 81st minute but his deflected effort bounced off the upside of the crossbar. It was the first decent effort by the Inter Milan playmaker on a day of sub-standard shooting.

Dirk Kuyt wrapped up the victory with five minutes to play as he tapped in after Elia hit the post. Elia really made a positive impact on the Dutch team, and should be touted to start the next game for Holland.

A smashing goal line clearance by Christian Poulson saw a respectable score-line in the end, but Denmark can take some positives from this game. With Bendtner up front, the Danes are a big threat aerially and Cameroon and (aerially challenged) Japan will have to be on their defensive guard.

The withdrawal of Arsenal man Bendtner clearly hindered the Danish cause: but this is the toughest team they will play in the group.

Follow my reports where I’ll be blogging on every World Cup match in South Africa with refreshing reactions and insight.


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