JOHANNESBURG, June 14- The Netherlands got their World Cup campaign off to a winning start on Monday with a 2-0 victory over Denmark thanks to an own-goal and a late tap-in from Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt.The star-studded Dutch are among the favourites to win the World Cup in the final at Soccer City on July 11, but Bert van Marwijk’s side failed to impress at the same venue here as the pragmatic Danes defended well.
An own goal by Danish defender Simon Poulsen at the start of the second-half and Kuyt’s 85th-minute effort was enough to give the Netherlands the three points.
Dutch captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst joined the centurion’s club as he won his 100th cap and coach Bert van Marwijk left out Arjen Robben to give the winger more time to recover from a torn thigh.
Despite the Dutch boasting a forward line including Arsenal striker Robin van Persie supported by midfielders Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder, Kuyt and Real Madrid’s Rafael van der Vaart, the Danish defence held firm.
Kuyt had the first shot of the game on ten minutes when he fired his shot at Danish goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen who controlled the ball after an initial fumble.
Just as the Dutch attacked relentlessly, so the Danes soaked up the pressure in front of a 83,465-strong crowd.
Denmark created a chance of their own on 27 minutes when Ajax winger Dennis Rommedahl’s pass found Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner at the far post, but he headed wide.
The Dutch kept up the pressure, but the Danes were quick on the counter-attack.
With the second-half barely begun, the Danes got the worst possible start when Poulsen headed away a van Persie cross, but watched in horror as the ball rolled across the line off the shoulder of Daniel Agger on 46 minutes.
The Dutch were rarely tested with Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel bossing the midfield, but neither did the Netherlands pose much of a threat to the Danish defence until the game’s last quarter.
Bendtner, who had not been expected to be fit enough to play, made way for Copenhagen’s veteran Jesper Gronkjaer, while van der Vaart came off for Eljero Elia, who created the second goal.
The Dutch upped the ante in the last 15 minutes and after Elia hit the post, Kuyt was on hand to tap the ball past Sorensen.
The Dutch next face Japan in Durban on Saturday, the same day Denmark play Cameroon in Tshwane.