World Cup 2010 - Netherlands open with win

Mon, 14 Jun 14:17:00 2010

The Netherlands opened their World Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory over Denmark in the Group E clash at Soccer City in Johannesburg.

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A Simon Poulsen own goal 50 seconds into the second-half gifted the Dutch the lead before Dirk Kuyt sealed the points with a tap-in five minutes from time.

It was a functional if not spectacular performance from Bert van Marwijk's side who are now unbeaten in their last 20 matches, the longest current unbeaten run in international football.

The Dutch went ahead courtesy of the latest in what is becoming a long list of individual errors at this tournament.

Robin van Persie's cross from the left was headed, under no real pressure, by Poulsen into the back of Daniel Agger and it nestled in the net.

Poulsen, who plays his club football in the Netherlansd for AZ, was awarded with the own goal after the ball skidded off his forehead and went in completely the other direction to what he intended.

Van Persie then spurned two great chances to extend the lead, a heavy first touch allowing Thomas Sorensen to slide out and claim after Simon Kjaer gave the ball away carelessly before he headed wide from a corner after finding himself unmarked eight yards out.

In between the Dutch, who failed to create a clear cut chance in the first-half, had further opportunities with Rafael van der Vaart's volley forcing Sorensen into an acrobatic save before the Stoke keeper pushed Mark van Bommel's near post effort around the post.

Sorensen was beaten when Wesley Sneijder's curling left-footed effort looped off Agger, which saw the ball came off the top of the crossbar.

Poulsen made partial amends with an incredible acrobatic clearance off the line from Ibrahim Afellay's volley but a second was always on the cards.

The Dutch improved dramatically after the introduction of pacy winger Eljero Elia midway through the second-half and it was the sub who saw his shot tipped onto the post by Sorensen only for Liverpool's Kuyt to score his 16th international goal from close range as Kjaer failed to follow-up the rebound.

Denmark created absolutely nothing in the second-half but had the best of the limited chances on offer in the opening 45 minutes.

A raking pass from Agger found Dennis Rommedahl and he picked out Nicklas Bendtner but the Arsenal striker could only put his header wide from eight yards.

Former Charlton winger Rommedahl also stung Maarten Stekelenburg's palms with a fizzing diagonal drive while the Ajax goalkeeper was also called into action to turn Thomas Kahlenberg's near post effort around the post.

The Dutch lacked width and an injection of pace in the absence of the injured Arjen Robben until Elia's arrival but improved markedly as the game went on and will go into Saturday's game against Japan with added confidence after their late flourish.

Match Stats

Netherlands v Denmark

Goals 2-0

1st Half Goals 0-0

Shots on Target 6-3

Shots off Target 7-5

Blocked Shots 6-3

Corners 6-2

Fouls 13-21

Offsides 4-2

Yellow Cards 2-1

Red Cards 0-0

Passing Success 88.6%-72.8%

Tackles 12-11

Tackles Success 91.7%-72.7%

Possession 65.9%-34.1%

Territorial Advantage 52.2%-47.8%

Lee Walker / Eurosport

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