By Nick Ames in Kharkiv
Nicklas Bendtner was delighted after helping Denmark defeat hotly-tipped Holland at the Metalist Stadium on Saturday night - but admits that they rode their luck at times.
A first-half goal from Michael Krohn-Dehli was enough to get Morten Olsen’s side off to a flying start in Group B, but the Dutch missed a number of clear chances either side of the winner.
But Bendtner says the most important thing was simply to pick up the three points.
“Starting the group really well is what we dreamed of, and taking the lead in the first half was really good for us," he told Arsenal.com.
“We must admit that they had chances to score as well, and on a normal day I think they would have scored one or two of them. But the luck was on our side and we took full advantage of that.”
Krohn-Dehli’s goal came amid a wave of early Dutch pressure, with Arsenal team-mate Robin van Persie among those to come close, but Bendtner said Denmark’s tactics were paramount in withstanding the storm.
“We had our game plan, and I think when they tried to play it out from the back we stood up really well,” he said. “We made it difficult for them to play through us. It was only when we gave the ball away in the middle of the park that they were able to counter-attack, because we were out of position.
“Our centre-backs [Daniel Agger and Simon Kjaer] were strong. They were up against a difficult test today and I think they did well to keep the score at 1-0.”
Defensive duties were the order of the day for Bendtner, too. Denmark’s attacking opportunities were minimal, but his ball retention and pressing of the Dutch centre backs were important components of their win.
“I was quite pleased,” he said. “As a striker you’d always like to have one or two chances to score and on another day I probably would have, but I’m proud and happy that I can defend from the front and help the team that way as well.”
Next up for the Danes are Portugal, who they meet in Lviv on Wednesday. Three points would all but see them through to the last eight, but Bendtner is refusing to rest on his laurels.
“If we beat Portugal it’d be a massive result, but we cannot think about anything more right now,” he said.
“We have to keep believing that we can get something out of the next game because three points will not be enough to qualify.
"We have started well and it’s nice to have got the first game out of the way – that’s always a little bit nervy because we’ve prepared such a long time for it. Now we just look forward to the Portugal match.”9 Jun 2012