Denmark stun Dutch in Kharkiv
(CNN) — Denmark produced the first major surprise of Euro 2012 as Morten Olsen’s side secured a 1-0 win over World Cup finalists Netherlands in Kharkiv.
Famed for their Total Football approach, the Dutch were left totally frustrated by a Danish side that was never fazed by the star-studded reputation of Bert van Marwijk’s team.
Billed as Group B’s rank outsiders, Denmark had to ride their luck against a Dutch team that dominated possession for long periods of this game in Kharkiv’s Metalist Stadium.
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Amid those lucky breaks though Simon Kjaer and Daniel Agger in central defence showed plenty of steel and when the Danes did get hold of the ball they produced some intricate passing moves.
Danish goalkeeper Stephan Andersen was also outstanding, notably when he thwarted Dutch substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar after the Schalke forward was sent clear by Wesley Sneijder’s wonderful pass with the outside of his right foot.
That Huntelaar. who scored 48 goals in all competitions last season for the German Bundesliga club, was left on the bench by Van Marwijk was the first surprise of Saturday’s game.
And before he was introduced in the second half, Huntelaar could only watch as Robin van Persie’s nose for a goal went missing.
A frustrating evening for the Dutch striker, who has scored 30 goals in the English Premier League for Arsenal this season, was encapsulated when he completely miskicked the ball early in the second half.
Van Persie should have scored early on in the game but put his shot wide and later on in the first half the Arsenal striker was thwarted by Danish goalkeeper Stephan Andersen.
Completely against the run of play, Michael Krohn-Dehli gave Denmark a shock lead after he gathered Simon Poulsen’s deflected cross and drilled a shot through the legs of Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
Arjen Robben then curled a left-footed shot against the post as Denmark’s goal continued to lead a charmed life.
The second half mirrored the first with the Dutch pinning the Danes in their own half, but the Danes refused to be cowed and after surviving a late handball appeal against Lars Jacobsen, Olsen’s team secured a memorable victory.