Denmark upset the Netherlands 1-0 in the opening Group B match at the European soccer championship, as Germany overcame a stubborn Portugal team to win by the same score.
Michael Krohn-Dehli scored the only goal yesterday in Denmark’s victory in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The Netherlands dominated with 28 shot attempts, but only put eight on target. All eight of the Danish shots were on target.
“We played to our strengths,” Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk said on the website of tournament organizer UEFA. “The players really wanted to do something with all the chances but the ball didn’t want to go in.”
Mario Gomez’s goal in the 72nd minute lifted Germany past Portugal in Lviv, Ukraine. German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, unchallenged most of the game, made two late saves to preserve the win.
Play begins today in Group C in Poland as defending champion Spain meets Italy in Gdansk and Ireland takes on Croatia in Poznan.
The Netherlands was ahead in every statistical category against Denmark except the final score. The Danes took the lead after 24 minutes when Simon Poulson’s cross deflected to Krohn-Dehli, who went by two defenders and put a shot through the legs of goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
Arjen Robben hit the post for the Netherlands 12 minutes later and Danish goalkeeper Stephan Andersen blocked a shot from Robin van Persie.
Holland’s dominance continued in the second half as Robben, van Persie and captain Mark van Bommel all had chances. Van Marwijk brought on Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who led all scorers in qualifying with 12 goals, for the last 20 minutes and the striker had an immediate chance stopped by Andersen, who also blocked van Persie’s rebound attempt.
The Dutch had a penalty appeal for handball denied in the 89th minute and van Persie headed his team’s final attempt just over the crossbar in stoppage time.
“I think it was a fantastic performance, we dared to play football against this Dutch team,” Denmark coach Morten Olsen said on UEFA’s website. “We also had chances and without being biased, I think the victory was more than deserved.”
The Netherlands meet rival Germany in their next game June 13 in Kharkiv facing possible elimination from the 16-team tournament. Denmark plays Portugal the same day in Lviv.
“We can still do a lot and we just have to beat Germany,” van Marwijk said. “That’s not going to be easy but that the goal now and everyone knows that.”
In Lviv, Germany had 61 percent of possession in the opening half but it was Portugal defender Pepe who came closest to scoring when he hit the underside of the cross bar in stoppage time. The Portuguese argued the ball was over the goal line when it came down and television replays it wasn’t.
The Germans continued to pressure in the second half but lacked a real scoring chance. Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo then looked to have a free shot at the other end, but was denied by Jerome Boateng’s tackle.
Germany finally broke through as Sami Khedira sent a cross from the left which Gomez headed back across goal into the lower right corner.
Ronaldo forced Neuer to his knees to save his swerving shot and Nani’s curling cross hit the top of the crossbar.
Neuer also came off his line to stop a shot from Silvestre Varela in the 89th minute and Nani had a shot blocked by defender Holger Badstuber in stoppage time. Bruno Alves then headed Portugal’s last chance off the resulting corner kick over goal.