Group B
Netherlands 0-1 Denmark



Brondby striker Michael Krohn-Delhi scores the only goal of the game to inflict a damaging loss upon Bert Van Marwijk's Holland


By Alex Byrom
Deputy Football Editor reports from Kiev

Underdogs Denmark picked up the first shock of the tournament as the 1992 winners shocked pre-tournament favourites Netherlands with an outstanding 1-0 victory. 

Denmark striker Michael Krohn-Delhi's superb, controlled finish inflicted a first opening game defeat on the Dutch since they lost in the Euros of 1988. The Oranje missed a hatful of chances, and even with strikers who managed between thirty and forty goals for their clubs on the pitch, to no avail as the Danes held on for a famous win. Robben hit a post, and the goalkeeper was called into action on more than one occasion - whilst the Dutch should also have been awarded a penalty for handball late on. 

Denmark lined up exactly as expected with Sunderland striker Nicklas Bendtner leading the line and expected to do the dirty work. 34 year old Deenis Rommedahl also played whilst only one Poulson started: Simon - the young left back, making his first appearence at a major tournament. Of course, Stephan Andersen started in goal, following Thomas Sorensen injury in the build-up to Euro 2012 meaning he missed out altogether. 

Meanwhile for the Dutch, they had another eleven players who were all good enough to start. In the end, Jan Mathijsen was ruled out through injury before the game, so Jan Vlaar partnered Jonny Heitinga in central defence. Qualifying top scorer Klass-Jan Huntelaar was left on the bench alongside Dirk Kuyt and Rafael Van der Vaart; instead, Ibrahim Afellay - who has played just one full 90 minute match since August led the line.  



Holland had won the last 3 matches - and never lost - when Rafael Van der Vaart has come on as a substitute.


Denmark had an early sighter at goal when captain Daniel Agger glanced an early free kick wide inside the opening 3 minutes. Holland, great passmasters, and certainly up there with Spain, Germany  and Brazil were 11/1 to win the tournament. But they were struggling early on. Nicklas Bendtner was brought down in a dangerous position, but Rommedahl shot was blocked by the wall. 

They fashioned their first chance on eleven minutes, when Van Persie, deployed out wide despite grabbing 34 goals in all competitions for Arsenal last season, found a cross that just evaded Sneijder at the back post.  

Holland were now trying to force the issue, but their tempo was incredibly slow, so they looked to Robben on the right hand side. Robben caused immediate danger on 15 minutes: he slipped in between 2 players on the edge of the area, but his low shot was too close to Andersen, who easily held on. Robben again nearly created a goal. After a neat one-two with Van Persie, he broke into the area, and instead of shooting, he tried to find Sneijder at the back post, but Kjaer got across to clear the danger. 

It seemed that Robben was becoming the key man, as all the attacks came down the righ hand side; Van Persie had moved to a more central role, and Afellay and Sneijder dropped deeper to pick up the loose pieces. The Bayern Munich midfielder, who got the most assists in qualifying for the Dutch (7) found Van Persie on the edge of the box, he swivelled to escape Agger, but again the finish was poor. 

And they were made to pay. On twenty-four minutes the Danes took the lead against the run of play. The ball was with Simon Poulson down the left and he endeavoured to get a cross in. However it was blocked by Van der Wiel, but richocheted back to Krohn-Delhi, who calmly took it in his stride and beat Heintinga far too easily before slotting the ball through Stekelenberg's legs. 

Netherlands were stunned, startled and surprised. This wasn't in the script, but Denmark have a habit of upsetting the odds, as they finished top of their qualifying group ahead of Portugal. Holland made a decent response: Vlaar headed Robben's corner wide, and then the Bayern Munich star came even closer when he struck the woodwork. Denmark tried to keep hold of possession and were doing so with ease, comfortably playing it between the defenders. But then goalkeeper Andersen passed it straight to Robben, who got it onto his left foot, but his curling shot struck the base of the post with the keeper beaten. What a let off for the Danes. 

On 38 minutes, in the ineffective Afellay found a little acre of space thirty yards out from De Jong's pass, but fired way over the bar in the end, although it did have the keeper scrambling across his goal. 

Denmark - well set out - were not thinking of just hanging onto their lead. They pressed forward on the break. The ball eventually made its way to Rommedahl on the right of the area, his chipped cross was about to be hit towards goal by Krohn-Delhi but Zimling came in and took it instead, and it was easily blocked. 

Three minutes before half time, Andersen was finally called upon to make a save. A long ball forward found Sneijder clear of the defence. He slipped in Van Persie one-on-one but a poor first touch let him down and his shot was parried away by the keeper. The Van Persie of Arsenal would have scored. All wasn't over for the Dutch - they just needed to get their best players on the ball. 2 minutes after the restart, Robben showed a unbelievable burst if accelaration but his shot was well blocked by Krohn-Delhi back there doing his job for the team.  

Van Persie had another chance to level moments later, but fluffed his lines - with an air kick - when Sneijder found him, having just lost his marker for a split second. But Holland continued as the ball was still in play and the keeper smothered the ball as Van Persie threatened to get in. 

It was now an onslaught as wave after wave beared down on the Danish goal, but nevertheless they stuck to their task, although had Andersen to thank for an excellent diving save to deny Mark Van Bommel rasping 25 yard piledriver. And he was at full stretch, but only a spectator as Afellay's low shot threatened to squirm into the far corner. 

Robben's inswinging corners were causing havoc- even though the keeper had brilliantly claimed a few- Heitinga stole in and flew himself towards another one but it went over. 

Just after an hour, Sneijder finally delivered a decent ball but Robben at the back post headed wide, when really he should have scored. Suddenly, everyone started to think that it wouldn't be Holland's day after all. So frustration was reaching boiling point shown when Mark Van Bommel lunge into a tackle and rightly received a yellow card. But still the Danes were a threat on the break, and Bendtner had a shot that was pushed round the post by Stekelenberg. 

So with twenty minutes left, Bert van Marwijk decided to make key changes. Huntelaar was introduced as to was Van der Vaart for De Jong and Afellay. But the game carried on and Agger showed what a fantastic game he had with an outstanding tackle on Robben, as he looked set to find a gap. 

Within minutes of coming on, the Dutch had their best chance of the day. A fantastic threaded ball by Sneijder released Huntelaar but the keeper made a diving, opressing block to snuff the attack, and then blocked Van Persie's follow-up and the chance had gone. 



The Netherlands lost their opening game of Euro 1988, but went on to win the tournament that year.


Denmark players were getting tired, so Merten Oslen made a couple of late changes with Mikklesen replacing the unhappy Rommedahl and Schone coming on for Christian Eriksen. Dirk Kuyt came on for Van der Wiel in a last chance saloon for Holland.In stoppage time there was a dubiously contentious moment. Huntelaar was holding off Jacobsen when it struck the former West Ham, Everton and Blackburn defender on the arm. Dutch players screamed for a penalty that was never going to be given and Denamrk held on for a famous win.



ANALYSIS:  Netherlands 0-1 Denmark
Alex Byrom - Deputy Football Editor reporting from Kharkiv (Ukraine)

"Credit to Denmark - a fantastic performance, full of grit, determination, courage and fight. They played without fear and showed some real quality at times, too. The pressure is all on Holland to reach the knock-out stages now. They face Germany next, and then Portugal, so if they need to win the next game to stand any chance of progressing to the knock-out stages. It was a shcok without a doubt, but a well deserved win for the Danes, who keep doing it in big tournaments.





Saturday 9th June                 UEFA Euro 2012: Poland & Ukraine                   Group B                 Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv

Netherlands 0-1 Denmark                                    KO 5pm                 Live on BBC1/HD               (HT 0-1)    

                              Krohn-Delhi 24        





1. Marten Stekelenberg- 5/10  Struggled throughout. Looked very weak when coming for crosses and it looked like it was his first cap. Mistake at near post for goal, but some decent saves.  

2. Gregory Van der Wiel- 6/10  Found it tough against the pace and trickery of Poulson and Krohn-Delhi, plus Zimling too. Got forwaard well but final ball let him down. Struggled to combine with Robben. 

3. Jonny Heitinga- 6.5/10  Despite the mistake for the goal, he is still a powerhouse, and had he had little but more luck from set pieces, could have had his name on the scoresheet. Looked uncomfortable alongside Vlaar, and with Stekelenberg behind him. Beaten by the quicker men, and caught out of position more than he should have been. 

13. Ron Vlaar- 5.5/10  A weak link. All over the place for the first goal: He didn't know if to cover or defend; in the end he did neither. Beaten in the air by Bendtner every time, and pace of Rommedahl and Krohn-Delhi made him suffer. 

15. Jetro Willems- 6.5/10  Lively start for youngest player in tournament history. Git forward well every time, whilst has some pace and trickery. Caught out of position frequently however, but will improve upon game.  

06. Mark Van Bommel (C)- 5/10  Caught in two minds all of the time, and didn't get forward as much as he normally does. Struggled to take up killer positions in the middle of the park. Didn't cover Heitinga for the opener and at fault for the goal. Poor display from the captain. Booked. 

8. Nigel De Jong- 4.5/10  Looked out of sorts. Even if he had protected the back four as well as he could have done, it still looked weak and vulnerable. Passing was sound, but game passed him by. Withdrawn for more attacking option.  

11. Arjen Robben- 6/10  Notablr threat down the flanks. Sometimes a bit greedy and too often chose wrong decision. Furthermore, when getting into some good positions in the final third, he wasted the opportunities with poor finishing or poor decision-making. Poor link-up with Van der Wiel. Needs to get involved more. 

10. Wesley Sneijder- 6.5/10  Energetic and full of running. Was too deep most of the time and couldn't get on the ball to dictate play. In the second half, found some space and he was more dangerous. Some sublime passes to split the Danish defence. Needs to be closer to the striker.

16. Robin Van Persie- 4.5/10  Oblivious, unbelievable. Something we haven't seen from the Premier League's top scorer for a while: A poor performance. Everything went wrong. Was in decent areas but poor finishing and increasingly poor decision-making let him down. If he plays more centrally, he will score as he looked very isolated on the left hand side.  

20. Ibrahim Afellay- 4.5/10  Increasingly unlikely he will last the duration of this tournament. He has played just 300 minutes of football in 11 months - and it showed. Weak mentally, poor physically, easily brushed off, and when he dropped short, left a huge void in the strikers' role as nobody filled in. Short of match fitness and lacklustre.  

Substitutes bench:-  
12. Vorm (GK), 22. Krul (GK), 4. Joris Mathijsen, 5. Wilfred Bouma, 7. Dirk Kuyt, 9. Klass-Jan Huntelaar, 14. Stijn Schaars, 17. Kevin Strootman, 18. Luuk De Jong, 19. Luciano Narsingh, 23. Rafael Van der Vaart.  


Subs used:     

Klass-Jan Huntelaar (for Afellay 71)-  4/10  Added some might up front and involved the play more. Should have scored when played through. More of a threat. 

Van der Vaart (for N De Jong 71)-  4/10  Good ideas but not always coming off. Found himself stuck in the middle of the defence an midfield of Denmark. Struggled to impose himself on game.  

Kuyt (for Van der Wiel 84)-  1/10  Brought on as another option. Extremely poor. Poor distribution, crossing and passing. Nothing more than a cameo. 


Booked:         Van Bommel (66)

Sent-off:         None





1. Stephan Andersen-  7.5/10  Commanded his area well. Strong influence on corners. Caught or punched everything he could. Decision-making spot on. Excellent save from Van Bommel, everything you would want from your keeper. 

6. Lars Jacobsen-  8/10  Fantastic game by showing his experience. Never once was he beaten by the man running at him, he tackled to perfection, well organised. Didn't miss a chance to get forward. Calm and composed; excellent all-round display.   

4. Daniel Agger (C)-  9/10  Captain's performance. Complete. Led from the back brilliantly. Him and Kjaer never looked like they were ever going to let the Dutch in. Battered Van Persie, brushed off Afellay, blocked shots, won headers, intercepted passes. Was always the man to beat. Outstanding. 

3. Simon Kjaer-  8.5/10  Outstanding performace alongside Agger. He was a rock; nothing got past him, anything that came into the box he headed away, cleared away and dealt with. Dealt with the threat of Van Persie and Afellay reasonably well, but knoew that Agger would always be there.  

5. Simon Poulson-  8/10  A great debut performace for your first tournament. A menace down the left hand side, and his blocked cross led to the goal. Defended well at times, although was beaten on a few occasions. Some great tackles and sound positioning. 

10. Dennis Rommmedahl-  8/10  Energetic, always full of running. Didn't look his age. Always a threat, and looking to create something for his team. Got into some great positions.  

7. William Kvist-  7.5/10  A real hero. Blocked and harried in midfield like his life depended on it. A real stand out performer. Passing was good, held position well, protected back four, and kept a good tab on Sniejder for most of the game, keeping him quiet. Booked.  

8. Cristian Eriksen-  6/10  Shame, a rather disappointing performance from the young Ajax midfielder. Playing just behind the front man he found it difficult to get into the game, so came short to try and get the ball. When he did get it - some nice passes and neat interplay. 

21. Niki Zimling-  6.5/10 Odd little guy. Playing out on the left, he provided some width, when Rommedahl came inside. Gave Van der Wiel a tough time and had he had a little more belief, could have beaten him more often. 

10. Michael Krohn-Delhi- 9/10  Wonderful game. Excellent goal, finishing with all the composure, coolness and calmness of a world class player. Linked with forwards well, and never missed a chance to test the defence. Man of the match. 

11. Nicklas Bendtner- 7/10  LStruggled to influence the game like he does, but still a determined effort by the Sunderland man. Held the ball up well on occasions but just lacked that little but of extra support in key areas. In the second half, became a little tired and struggled to get into the box. 


Substitutes bench:-
16. Lindegaard (GK), 22. Schmeichel (GK), 2. C. Poulson, 12. Bjelland, 13. Okore, 14. Schone, 15. Silberbauer, 17. Pedersen, 18. Wass, 19. J. Poulson, 20. Kahlenberg, 23. Mikklesen  


Subs used:     

Schone (for Eriksen 74)-  4.5/10  Enjoyed the role of protector as he was brought on to protect lead. Passing was tidy and looked as though he could be a starter soon. Did job well.

Mikklesen (for Rommedahl 83)-  1.5/10  Regrouped on wing, and 7 minites of pure running to chase down lost targets. Always the target for balls into the channel, to help the Danes run down the clock. 


Booked:         S Poulsen (77), Kvist (81)


My Man of the Match:    Daniel Agger (Denmark)- Rating 9/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:   Ibrahim Afellay (Netherlands)- Rating 4.5/10



Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)- 7.5/10
Attendance: 34,973



Match Facts:

Possession:  Denmark- 47%               
Netherlands- 53%

Shots at goal: Denmark- 8                Netherlands- 29

Shots on target: Denmark- 7                Netherlands- 9

Shots off target: Denmark- 1               Netherlands- 20

Corners: Denmark- 4               Netherlands- 11

Fouls: Denmark- 11                Netherlands- 7

Offsides: Denmark- 1                Netherlands- 3

Assists: Denmark- None               Netherlands- None




Netherlands head coach Bert van Merwijk: "It is such a clear penalty, and then you [are] likely to get a draw. When it doesn't go in your favour, it's unfortunate but that's football. There was maybe 4, 5 or 6 players who had numerous chances to score, and the referee had a chance. We created an improbable amount of chances, but when you don't take them - this is what happens."

Denmark head coach Morten Olsen :  "You saw a Danish team who overall were the better team, and also, in the final 10 minutes were physically stronger than the Dutch and this is the most important [thing]. We said before the game that if we are to beat one of these teams, we have to reach a high level of performance - and that is what happened."

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