|Kuyt puts away the winner after an own goal had given Netherlands the lead [GALLO/GETTY]
The Netherlands got their World Cup campaign off to a winning start 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 on Monday.
An own goal by Danish defender Simon Poulsen at the start of the second-half and Kuyt's 85th-minute effort were enough to give the Netherlands the three points.
"The players were a little tense and frustrated in the first-half, we wanted to play beautiful football, but we lost the ball too often," admitted van Marwijk.
"Things got better after the first goal, then you saw what we are capable of doing, we could have won by more. It was a huge relief when the second goal went in."
Not to blame
Danish coach Morten Olsen insisted Poulsen was not to blame for the own goal.
"Simon Poulsen was actually our best player," he said.
"That sort of thing happens to all players, but you want it to happen in training not in an important game like this.
"I said to him afterwards that he had to look forward and not dwell on it as he played well."
Dutch captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst won his 100th cap and 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 chance on 10 minutes when he fired a shot at Danish goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen who gathered 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.
With the second-half barely underway, the Danes were rocked when Poulsen headed away a van Persie cross, but watched in disbelief 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 Netherlands next face Japan in Durban on Saturday, the same day Denmark play Cameroon in Tshwane.