On Monday afternoon on the World Cup schedule, the Netherlands played against Denmark. Ajax players featured on both sides, with Maarten Stekelenburg and Gregory van der Wiel on the Dutch squad, and Dennis Rommendahl on Denmark’s. The Ajax presence increased as the match progressed, with both Demy de Zeeuw and Christian Eriksen joining the lineups. The Netherlands won, 2-0.
The Netherlands had a tentative start against a surprisingly strong Denmark. Coach and ex Ajax man Morten Olsen’s team had a concentrated, compact approach, which took edge off the Dutch attacking game. Olsen started forward Bendtner, which was a surprise as he was expected to miss the Championships due to injury. But he was on the squad, and, with Dennis Rommendahl, formed the Danish attack. Together, they also created the first big opportunity of the match. In the 28th minute, Rommendahl made an excellent pass, but Brendtner’s header went wide. Later in the first half, the Ajax player went for it on his own, but his Ajax teammate Stekelenburg made a great stop on Rommendahl’s attempt.
On the Dutch side, there was disappointingly little to report in the first half. Gregory van der Wiel powered through a few times, but the finishes were medicre. Former Ajax player Wesley Sneijder attempted two free kicks from far out. His first attempt went over, and the second was blocked by the wall.
But the Netherlands got a surprising lead early in the second half. In the 46th minute, AZ player Simon Poulsen’s header, on a pass from Van Persie and via Agger’s back, landed in his own goal, 1-0. This gave the Dutch team momentum, while having an expected negative effect on the Danes.
Fifteen minutes before the end, Olsen brought in eighteen year old Christian Eriksen for his World Cup debut. The young Eriksen was brought in to feed the new forwards, Beckman and former Ajax player Gronkjaer. But the Danish formation couldn’t make it work, while the Dutch team got new momentum from substitutes Elia and Affelay. Five minutes before time, Elia forced a save from Sørensen. The goalie ticked the ball right into Dirk Kuyt’s path, and he made it 2-0. Bert van Maarwijk brought in his third, and in total five, Ajax player in the 88th minute. Demy de Zeeuw came in for Nigel de Jong. The lineup remained this way as the Dutch team won their first World Cup match. They will meet Japan on Saturday.
Netherlands – Denmark 2-0 (0-0)
Score: 46. Poulsen (og) 1-0, 85. Kuyt 2-0
Referee: Lannoy (Frankrijk)
Cards: De Jong, Van Persie (both Netherlands), Kjaer (Denmark)
Netherlands: Stekelenburg; Van der Wiel, Heitinga, Mathijsen, Van Bronckhorst, De Jong (88. De Zeeuw), Van Bommel; Kuyt, Van Persie (77.Affelay), Sneijder, Van der Vaart (67. Elia).
Denmark: Sørensen, C. Poulsen, Kjaer, Agger, L. Jacobsen, Jørgensen, Bendtner (62. Beckman), Kahlenberg (73. Eriksen), S. Poulsen, Rommedahl, Enevoldsen (56. Gronkjaer).