A comical own goal by Daniel Agger and a late Dirk Kuyt effort helped Holland kick of their World Cup campaign with a comfortable win over a disappointing Denmark side at Soccer City.
Denmark seemed content to play for a goalless draw but their stubborn resistance was broken less than a minute into the second half, when Robin van Persie’s cross from the left was headed back towards goal by Simon Poulsen but struck the back of team-mate Agger and went in.
Thereafter, Denmark never looked like getting back on level terms and it was was no great surprise when Kuyt doubled Holland’s advantage five minutes from the end.
Denmark coach Morten Olsen sprung a major surprise before kick-off by naming Nicklas Bendtner in his starting line-up, despite saying yesterday that the striker had no chance of being fit.
It took ten minutes for the first shot on target – Kuyt sending a weak effort straight into the arms of Thomas Sorensen from just outside the penalty area.
The best chance of the first half arrived on 27 minutes when Dennis Rommedahl played in a cross from the right which was nodded wide of the target by the unmarked Bendtner.
Rommedahl created out another good chance when he cut in from the right, only to shoot straight at Maarten Stekelenburg in the Dutch goal.
The Ajax keeper was drawn into his first testing save after 36 minutes when Bendtner set free Thomas Kahlenberg, whose shot was palmed away.
Just before the break, Van Persie twisted and turned inside the Danish penalty area, before poking his right-foot effort wide of the post.
Holland were in front inside the opening minute of the second period and luck played a significant part in the goal. Simon Poulsen’s clumsy attempt to head clear Van Persie’s cross bounced off the back of Agger before clipping the post on its way past a helpless Sorensen.
The advantage could have been doubled after another mistake – this time from Simon Kjaer – saw Van Persie played in, but the striker dithered and Sorensen swooped to make the save.
Coach Morten Olsen brought on Jesper Gronkjaer, but it was the Dutch that continued to look dangerous. Sneijder almost made it 2-0 eight minutes from time, but saw his 25-yard effort deflected onto the crossbar by Agger with Sorensen beaten.
However, five minutes from time Kuyt secured the win. Substitute Eljero Elia, who was a threat on the left after his introduction midway through the half, saw his shot diverted onto the right-hand post by Sorensen, and Kuyt was on hand to tap in from close range.
Holland 2-0 Denmark
Scorers: Agger (og) 46, Kuyt, 85
Holland: 01 Stekelenburg, 02 Van Der Wiel, 03 Heitinga, 04 Mathijsen, 05 Van Bronckhorst
06 Van Bommel, 08 De Jong (De Zeeuw, 88), 10 Sneijder, 23 Van der Vaart (Elia, 67)
07 Kuyt, 09 Van Persie (Afellay, 77).
Denmark: 01 Sorensen, 03 Kjaer Yellow card, 04 Agger, 06 Jacobsen, 15 Poulsen, 02 Poulsen, 10 Jorgensen, 12 Kahlenberg (Eriksen, 72), 20 Enevoldsen (Gronkjaer, 56), 11 Bendtner (Beckmann, 62), 19 Rommedahl.
Referee: Stéphane Lannoy (France).