• Next game against Germany 'a final', says Rafael van der Vaart
• Coach unwilling to blame Robin van Persie for missed chances
Before the first shock result of Euro 2012, the Denmark head coach, Morten Olsen, had spoken approvingly of the Dutch being arrogant in a good way. He might be quietly revising that opinion after hearing the Holland players join their coach, Bert van Marwijk, in claiming the better team lost but deserved to win.
"It was a miracle, they only made half a chance and they scored," John Heitinga said. "It's unbelievable, look how many chances we created. There is no way anyone can say Denmark deserved to win. Denmark didn't play very well, you can't have played well when you give so many chances away. They worked hard, I suppose. Even Nicklas Bendtner was playing centre back near the end. We don't need to play any better in the next two games, we just need to score. We've got the players, we've got the quality, the only problem is that we are bottom of the group."
Rafael van der Vaart said Holland losing their opening group of death match to the unfancied Denmark was a shock, but said confidence would come back if the Dutch won against Germany. "The next game will be like a final for us, we need a win so it is easy," the striker said, after coming on as a second‑half substitute against Denmark.
"We really had to win that game to feel comfortable in a difficult group, but if you miss your chances you cannot win a match. It puts us in a difficult position now, I think we are going to need two wins. They had one chance all game, maybe two, and they scored. To be fair though, it was an amazing goal."
Michael Krohn-Dehli's instant control and turn of pace to sweep past the Dutch defence and slip his shot under Maarten Stekelenburg certainly surprised Ron Vlaar and a somewhat statuesque back line, and possibly even surprised a few travelling supporters from Denmark. Krohn-Dehli did not make the Danish squad for the last World Cup, and has just transferred back to Brondby after struggling with injury and failing to make a sufficient impression at Ajax, but was deservedly voted man of the match as the Danes' most mobile and dangerous attacker. "I made a mistake not calling up Michael two years ago," Olsen admitted. "But he's in better shape now and a good age to be a striker for the Denmark team for years to come."
Krohn-Delhi himself was all modesty. "I wouldn't say that was my best game for Denmark, it might have been one of them," he said. "I can't say whether other European clubs will come in for me as a result of this win. I have a contract for a year at Brondby and I am happy with that, but in football you never know. I am just glad to be able to play at this level after being out for a time with injuries."
Denmark deserved this result, and the Dutch were never as superior as Van Marwijk suggested, though they did start as if they meant to overwhelm their opponents and created at least half a dozen decent scoring opportunities. All were missed, mostly by Robin van Persie, although Van Marwijk was reluctant to pin the blame on his striker. "Four, five or six players had chances to score, plus the referee had a chance to give us a penalty and didn't," he said. "When you are the better team and you don't get a penalty you deserve, there is nothing you can do."
It would be difficult to say that Lars Jacobsen's alleged handball in the final minute should have resulted in a penalty. The referee had a good view and decided not to award one, Van der Vaart was equally close and thought it could have been given. "I felt it was handball, it was strange the officials did not see it, especially as there was an extra referee on the goal line," he said.
Even a penalty would have produced only a draw, however, and the Dutch would have been disappointed with that. Denmark can approach their next game against Portugal with increased confidence and their usual defensive solidarity. Against Germany, Holland must win the game and need to attack. That probably means Van Marwijk finding a place in his starting line-up for either Van der Vaart or Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and possibly having a word with Arjen Robben about playing for the team rather than himself. Robben did hit a post in the first half and might have turned the game with other opportunities he squandered, but unless the Dutch improve the supply line to Van Persie or the other main strikers they will again go out of a tournament looking more a collection of individuals than a functioning team. Whatever happens now, Denmark have no worries on that score.