Last Updated: Sun Oct 17, 2010 00:20 am (KSA) 21:20 pm (GMT)

Netherlands beats Denmark 2-0 at World Cup

A Netherlands supporter holds a mock-up trophy as he celebrates after his team won 2-0 over Denmark
A Netherlands supporter holds a mock-up trophy as he celebrates after his team won 2-0 over Denmark

Netherlands joined fellow football giants Argentina and Germany as first-match winners at the 2010 World Cup thanks to a 2-0 victory over Denmark at Soccer City on Monday.

A comical Simon Poulsen own goal in the opening minute of the second half gave the Dutch a lead they doubled on 85 minutes when Dirk Kuyt tapped a rebound over the line.

Italy's coach Marcello Lippi (L) jokes with goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon during a training session

It was a predictable outcome to the opening game in Group E, which the Dutch are expected to win with Cameroon, Denmark and Japan fighting for second place and the other ticket to the second round.

Netherlands may lack the bevy of big names they took to previous tournaments, but there is a steely determination about this squad which suggests they could go far in the quest for a first World Cup title.

Denmark provided no surprises at the sun-drenched 90,000-seat stadium on a western outskirt of Johannesburg, defending resolutely but with limited options going forward.

Experienced campaigners Italy launch their World Cup defense against Paraguay in Cape Town later on Monday with few pundits expecting them to go all the way again.

Surprise champions in Germany four years ago, the Azzurri (Blues) have done little in the past four years to suggest they can conquer the world again and join Brazil as five-time winners.

Fortunately for 2006 World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi, his team is in one of the less daunting mini-leagues with the Paraguay clash followed by New Zealand in Nelspruit and Slovakia in Johannesburg.

Lippi, who steps down when Italy exit the first tournament hosted by Africa, says pre-tournament results like a 2-1 Brussels loss to Mexico that flattered the Italians are irrelevant.

"I can tell you we have a great will to do well. Friendlies are not crucial although injuries may have prevented us experimenting or doing some things I wanted," he stressed.

Italy are favored to top the group with the Bloemfontein clash of Paraguay and debutants Slovakia likely to produce the runners-up and New Zealand given little chance of avoiding three losses in only their second appearance.

Cameroon face Japan in Bloemfontein with the 'Blue Samurai' set what seems an overly ambitious semi-finals target by coach Takeshi Okada given the country have never progressed further than the second round.

Germany were the most impressive day-three winners as they crushed 10-man Australia 4-0 in Durban despite missing a host of chances at the futuristic Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, Thomas Mueller and Cacau were on target for the three-time champions who created endless chances despite missing injured midfield conductor Michael Ballack.

A hyper-strict Mexican referee flashed numerous yellow cards and gave Australia midfielder Tim Cahill a harsh straight red, which rules him out of a clash with Ghana.

The other matches were settled by a solitary goal with a late Asamoah Gyan penalty giving Ghana success over Serbia, who had centreback Aleksander Lukovic sent off with 15 minutes left in Pretoria.

Slovenia won at the World Cup for the first time thanks to a soft late goal from captain Robert Koren in Polokwane with Algeria goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi allowing a timid shot from outside the area slip past him.

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