PHOTOS: Dutch pay heavy price for sloppy finishing
Among the favourites for Euro 2012 and boasting two of the hottest forwards on the continent, Netherlands produced a shocking display of finishing in their 1-0 defeat by Denmark on Friday that could cost them dear.
A statistic of 28 attempts on goal but only eight on target tells its own story as Danish goalkeeper Stephan Andersen was barely tested all night despite waves of orange attacks lapping around his penalty box.
Robin van Persie, the English Premier League's top scorer, barely put a foot right all night while the Bundesliga's leading marksman, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, was unable to change the tone when he joined the fray for the final 20 minutes.
Leading the way in the profligacy stakes, however, was Arjen Robben, whose trademark move these days seems to be to cut inside then blaze the ball high, wide and not at all handsome.
Image: Netherlands' Arjen Robben reacts after losing their Group B Euro 2012 soccer match against Denmark at the Metalist stadium in Kharkiv
He did steer one shot against a post in the first half but, other than a stinging Marc van Bommel shot tipped wide by Andersen, the Dutch finishing was distinctly second-rate.
By the end of the opening Group B game the Danish defenders were standing off, almost encouraging the Dutch to unload from distance.
Denmark, in contrast, had eight attempts at goal, all of them on target, including the all-important goal by midfielder Michael Krohn-Dehli after 24 minutes.
"We created an improbable number of chances but if you fail to finish than this happens," said Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk, whose team now face an uphill battle to get out of a group also containing Germany and Portugal.
Image: Wesley Sneijder of Netherlands heads the ball during the UEFA EURO 2012 group B match between Netherlands and Denmark
Photographs: Getty Images
"We lost our power after 70 minutes through our way of playing and also because we kept missing chances.
"Then you have to change your approach of the opponent and we failed to do that," he added.
It had all started so promisingly as the Dutch attacked from the start in waves and began taking pot shots from all angles.
Unfortunately for their orange-clad fans, who as ever turned up in vast numbers, they flew off at all angles too and, in truth, the Danes were almost untroubled for the final quarter.
Denmark had barely been out of their half when left back Simon Poulsen advanced and his cut-back found Krohn-Dehli rushing goalwards.
His first touch wrong-footed the Dutch defence, allowing him the space to coolly slide the ball between Stekelenburg's legs.
Image: Denmark's Krohn-Dehli scores a goal against Netherlands' goalkeeper Stekelenburg during their Group B Euro 2012 soccer match
Experience of Dutch football
Krohn-Dehli's joy was apparent - he was one of five players in Denmark's stating side with experience of Dutch football and in his case, much of it was bitter.
Despite coming through the ranks as a youth player at Ajax Amsterdam he was never given a chance in the first team and allowed to go on a free transfer. A second spell ended in a similar fashion after four appearances.
Image: Michael Krohn-Dehli of Denmark turns to celebrate scoring their first goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 group B match between Netherlands and Denmark
Photographs: Getty Images