Welcome relief for unconvincing Dutch


NETHERLANDS coach Bert van Marwijk admitted his side got out of jail with a “lucky” goal – but insisted they should have caned the Danes with plenty more.

A freak own goal from Liverpool defender Daniel Agger just 50 seconds into the second half eased Dutch nerves following a tepid opening half, which saw them frustrated by a stubborn Danish defence.

Agger’s Reds’ team-mate Dirk Kuyt settled the match with a second late on, leaving van Marwijk mightily relieved. “The players were tense,” he admitted. “We wanted to play beautiful football but we lost the ball to often.

“In the second half we started with a lucky goal, so it was up to Denmark to come out but they didn’t have the conviction or the force to. We could have won by more, it was a huge relief when the second goal went in.”

Despite possessing the likes of Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart, the Dutch struggled to show any real attacking intent in the opening half as the Danes looked comfortable.

But just as fans were settling back into their seats for the second half, Simon Poulsen attempted to head van Persie’s cross clear only for the ball to ricochet off the back of Agger and fly past keeper Thomas Sorensen.

Holland then began to show why many people are tipping them to go all the way with a much more fluent display. And with five minutes left, Kuyt wrapped it up from close range after lively substitute Eliero Elia raced through and struck a post.

But van Marwijk had a warning for his players afterwards, adding: “I have said 100,000 times that sometimes we are arrogant and sometimes that might backfire on us, and I have told my players from day one and we must not fall into that trap.”

Japan tame Lions in drab encounter

A FIRST-HALF strike from Keisuke Honda helped Japan edge Cameroon 1-0 in a dour affair in Bloemfontein.

Honda slotted home Dalsuke Matsui’s looping cross against the run of play on 38 minutes following an uninspiring opening half-hour.

Japan almost doubled the lead when an offside Shinji Okazaki struck a post, before Cameroon finally found their feet with Stephane Mbia rattling the crossbar from 25 yards.

But the Blue Samurai held on to go level on points with Holland at the top of Group E.