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Denmark stun Dutch as Germany beat Portugal

By John Sinnott, CNN: Denmark produced the first major surprise of Euro 2012 as Morten Olsen’s side secured a 1-0 win over the Netherlands in Kharkiv.
Famed for their Total Football approach, the World Cup finalists were left totally frustrated by a Danish side that was never fazed by the star-studded reputation of Bert van Marwijk’s team.
Michael Khron-Delhi scored the only goal of the game to leave Holland — one of Euro 2012’s heavyweights — a real challenge to qualify from Group B and reach the knockout stages.
Van Marjwik’s side next play Germany, who beat Portugal 1-0 in Lviv thanks to Mario Gomez’s second-half goal, in a game that never matched the drama of Denmark’s victory.
Denmark 1-0 Holland
Billed as Group B’s rank outsiders, Denmark had to ride their luck against a Dutch team that dominated possession for long periods in Kharkiv’s Metalist Stadium.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.
Before he was introduced in the second half, Huntelaar could only watch as Robin van Persie’s eye 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’s alertness.
Completely against the run of play, 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 somewhat of 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 held on to secure a memorable victory.
Germany 1-0 Portugal
Saturday’s second game had been billed as one of the most intriguing of the Euro 2012’s group stages but it rarely failed to live up to the pre-match hype.
It offered the tournament a first glimpse of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 60 goals for Real Madrid this season, but as to often the Portuguese forward flickered in and out of an international for his country — in truth more out than in.
Ronaldo has scored only five goals in 19 appearances during major internatioal tournaments and with Portugal adopting a strategy of containment he was never able to significantly influence the game.
It was not until late in the second half that he forced Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer into a save and for the most part Germany were able to minimize the Portuguese forward’s threat.
Soon after making that save Neuer had a fortunate escape when he misjudged Nani’s looping cross, allowing the ball to bounce off the bar.
The Bayern Munich goalkeeper quickly recovered his poise to brilliantly save from substitute Silvestre Varela, who had been set up by Nelson Oliveira’s ingenious reverse pass.
Nani then had a rising shot blocked by Holger Badstuber as Portugal finally put Germany under sustained pressure for the first time in search of an equaliser.
Given that late surge of Portuguese attacking activity the question is why Paulo Bento’s side only started to test Germany’s defense after having gone a goal behind.
Germany had arguably shaded a forgettable first-half, with Gomez going close early on with a header that was well saved by Rui Patricio, though Portuguese defender Pepe did hit the upright with a clever shot following a corner.
But it was Gomez who finally broke the deadlock, connecting with Sami Khedira’s cross from the right, cleverly guiding a header past Patricio.

Published Date: Saturday, June 9th, 2012 | 12:34 PM

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