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Euro 2012 - Group B Matchday 3 Recap

Holland and Denmark eliminated from ‘Group of Death’ at Euro 2012

Group B

24 hours after Russia suffered their Greek tragedy at Euro 2012, Holland finally exited the tournament – pointless and with only two goals to their name after a truly dire campaign.

The Dutch, World Cup finalists two years ago, arrived in Poland/Ukraine amongst the favourites to taste European success however a shock match day one defeat to Denmark brought the Orange Army down to earth with a significant bump.

And a 2-1 loss to arch enemies Germany four days later meant that Holland needed a minor miracle on match day three to squeeze into the quarter-finals.

A two goal success was required over Portugal who also needed to triumph in order to secure their place in the knockout phase.

Bert Van Marwijk’s men started extremely positively and snatched a lead just eleven minutes into the highly anticipated contest in Kharkiv thanks to a wonder strike from Rafael Van Der Vaart, captain on the night.

But the Dutch dominance didn’t last long as the Portuguese began to take the initiative.

Devastating down the flanks, Portugal went close on a couple of occasions before right full back Joao Pereira supplied a heavenly through ball to Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo who finished past Martin Stekelenburg with aplomb.

Holland’s arrears were reset at two goals with an hour remaining however they never many any telling in roads towards the task at hand.

And it was Portugal who assumed complete control after the break, frequently splicing the Dutch defence open at will and going close through both Nani and Joao Moutinho, before Ronaldo bagged his second of the match from a Nani assist to put Holland on the canvas.

Ronaldo could have netted his hat trick late in the day but for a coat of paint on the woodwork yet the damage had already been done as Van Marwijk’s side crashed out with a whimper.

Portugal’s winner had put group leaders Germany under real pressure for the best part of twenty minutes in Lviv – they were drawing 1-1 with Denmark following goals from Lukas Podolski and Martin Krohn-Delhi but a second for the Danes would have dumped Joachim Loew’s charges out of the competition.

And Denmark were unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty after Nicklas Bendtner was clumsily tugged down in the area by German centre-back Holger Badstuber.

Such is a fine line between 100% success and failure however and Lars Bender’s strike ten minutes from time ensured that Germany topped Group B with an impressive nine point haul.

Denmark consequently joined Holland in leaving the championship however they can be proud of the way they acquitted themselves against superior opposition over the course of the three group matches.

The same cannot be said of the Dutch who will now look to rebuild and reassess ahead of the forthcoming World Cup qualifying campaign later in the year – probably under the guidance of a new coach.