Michael Krohn-Dehli’s first-half goal condemned the Dutch to defeat in a game they largely dominated at Kharkiv’s Metalist Stadium on Saturday and left them needing positive results against Germany and Portugal to progress from Group B.
Bert van Marwijk’s side failed to capitalise on a slew of chances, with Arjen Robben’s shot against the base of the left-hand post in the 36th minute the closest they came to finding the target.
The World Cup runners-up were also frustrated by a clutch of impressive saves from Denmark goalkeeper Stephan Andersen, but the overriding feeling was one of frustration at the chances they failed to take.
Wesley Sneijder cut an unhappy figure at the final whistle, stalking alone towards the tunnel, his head down, and he took his disappointment out on his attacking colleagues in the mixed zone.
“We lacked sharpness and a cutting edge in the final action,” said the 27-year-old playmaker, who endured an injury-ravaged season at Inter Milan.
“The forwards really wanted to score — they should have done. We gave them enough chances for that. My job is to give them good balls. I think I did that. We should have scored.
“We played brilliantly, particularly at the start of the match. But it didn’t yield anything. It was one of those nights where the ball refuses to fall your way.”
Robben was also culpable of a miscalculation prior to Krohn-Dehli’s goal, when he elected to cross rather than shoot from a promising position, but explained that it was because of the criticism he receives in the Dutch media.
“I had some good chances, particularly two in the first half,” said the Bayern Munich winger, who had an extra-time penalty saved by Petr Cech in his side’s Champions League final defeat by Chelsea.
“For the first one, instead of shooting myself, I tried to find a team-mate. I should have taken the chance on my own.
“But people in the Netherlands say I’m a selfish player so much that it must have had a subconscious impact in my head. I wanted to be too collective. It was a mistake.
“I have nothing to blame myself for over the second chance, the shot that hit the post. I did what I should have done but I had no luck.”
Rafael van der Vaart admitted that “you could have heard a fly flying” in the Dutch changing room after the match and said: “Now we have to win our next two games, otherwise it’s hometime.”