For all of their attacking talent and all of the club goals scored by the players in their squad, the Netherlands couldn't find the goal to save their lives against Denmark on Saturday. They managed just five shots on target out of 30 attempts, and Stephan Andersen was only forced into a couple of difficult saves. All in all, it was a poor performance by the Dutch, and Denmark's 1-0 win was well-deserved.
The Netherlands had plenty of the ball and created plenty of shooting opportunities, but their finishing was woeful. Robin van Persie slipped on a couple of solid chances, while Arjen Robben was incredibly wasteful. He forced a save in the 16th minute and hit the post with a good strike in the 34th minute, but was very poor in the second half, regularly missing the target with his shots.
Denmark's goal came in the 24th minute on an impressive individual effort by Michael Krohn-Dehli. Cutting in from the left flank, he willed himself almost through Gregory Van Der Wiel, then made a great dribbling move to get around John Heitinga before placing a shot into the back of the net.
The first seven minutes of the second half were a bit shaky for the Danes. The Netherlands looked like they were going to be able to create a goal in that opening sequence of the half, but they couldn't convert their chances. Van Persie's two biggest miscues came during this period, including a comical slip on what should have been a shot on target. Andersen's 51st minute save seemed to be a wake-up call for Denmark, and they began to play better after that.
In the 71st minute, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Rafael Van der Vaart entered for Ibrahim Afellay and Nigel De Jong. Huntelaar had a golden chance to equalize for his team in the 74th minute on an absolutely jaw-dropping through ball by Wesley Sneijder that split the Danish defense. Huntelaar took a great touch wide and tried to chip Andersen, but Denmark's keeper came up huge with a fantastic save.
The final 15 minutes of the game belonged to Simon Kjaer and Daniel Agger. Holland struggled to even generate half-chances in the closing segment of the game, as the Danish central defense pair consistently won every 50-50 tackle or header that they were challenged with. Holland's poor shooting will be the big story tomorrow, but Kjaer and Agger also deserve credit for putting in spectacular performances.
The Netherlands have now put themselves in a terrible position. They'll have to get a result against Germany just to stay alive in the group, and they will likely enter the final match of the group stage against Portugal needing to avoid a loss at the very least to advance to the next round. Denmark, conversely, have a bit of breathing room.