Big Match: Denmark vs Portugal
Event: World Cup Qualifier
Location: [Parken], Copenhagen
Time: 20:00 GMT
Denmark took another massive step towards World Cup qualification by holding favourites Portugal to a 1-1 draw in Copenhagen last night.
In a match where anything but a win would almost certainly doom the Portuguese, they came out of the traps playing like a team possessed.
At the start of the day, they were seven points behind group leaders Denmark, with only four matches left to play for - that's 12 points.
Prior to the match, Coach Olsen urged the crowd to become the proverbial 12th man for their side. They didn't disappoint, as the the two teams walked out to a deafening atmosphere that brought back memories of the good old glory days of both teams.
The Portuguese players didn't seem at all fazed. They began controlling procedures right from kick off and squandered a number of chances to take the lead. "The superstar" (as the Danish commentators called Cristiano Ronaldo with great sarcasm) had a host of long range off-target shots. Every one of them met with loud cheers from the home crowd.
Stephan Andersen, who had a great first half, was called into action once more when Simao managed what Ronaldo had failed to do - to force Andersen into a meaningful save.
It was Portugal's biggest and best opportunity and just when the match appeared to be headed for a goalless first half, the man of the moment stepped up and fired in a goal which even the great Ronaldo (Brazilian) would be proud of.
A seemingly hopeful cross was lodged into the penalty box and with three Portugal defenders around him, Nicklas Bendtner confidently chest-controlled the ball before blasting the ball into the top corner.
It was a goal that oozed pure class, and was one that Arsenal fans should be proud of.
The second half continued in a similar vein to the first, with Portugal continuing to dictate the play and enjoying most of the chances, but continually failing to take advantage of their dominant possession. Ronaldo meanwhile continued to try his luck, with a number of long range efforts - none of which forced a save out of the 'keeper.
[Parken] was buzzing but nobody could escape the inevitable Portuguese onslaught on the Danish goal. It was a nail-biting finish and when Portugal were awarded a freekick on the edge of the area, nobody dared to look. That was until we saw Ronaldo step up, that settled our nerves a bit.
As expected, he fired it well wide and the party in the stands continued.
With 85 minutes on the clock, Portugal finally got the equaliser they had long waited for. A corner was sent over from the right by Brazilian born playmaker Deco to be met by another Brazilian-born player, Leidson, who headed home to give his adopted nation a glimmer of hope.
However, despite their hopes, the match ultimately finished 1-1, to leave Denmark on the brink of qualification and Portugal on the brink of elimination. Sweden's win in Hungary means they leapfrogged Portugal into third spot in the group.
Portugal will surely need to win their last three matches against second placed Hungary and Malta to stand any chance. Still that might not be enough to guarantee them a place in the World Cup.
Chelsea star Deco was understandable disappointed after such a dominant display went unrewarded.
"We played well", he said. "Better than them".
"But they scored first. We had many chances, just like in the first match which they won", he continued.
When quizzed about his adopted nation's World Cup chances, he wasn't exactly confident.
"We need to win our last three matches and hope for some luck in the other matches along the way" he said.
As Deco was wandering off back to the dressing rooms, Ronaldo appeared and gave a quick but effective interview to Portuguese TV.
"Sorry, not today", he said.
He was obviously not happy with his nation's, and in particular his own performance.
Carlos Queiroz was also far from happy, and believed the Danes had Nicklas Bendtner to thank for the draw.
"The difference between the sides was Bendtner", he said.
"Bendtner had one chance all night and he took it with great maturity", he continued.
Unfortunately, that was as far as he would go in praising the Danes, if indeed he was doing that.
"We were cheated out of five penalties. The only person who did not see it was the referee. It (the referee's performance) has put a huge dent in our qualification hopes but we will stay strong and keep believing. Now we must hope the Danes can beat Sweden."
BENDTNER'S MESSEGER TO WENGER
"I'm a central striker, not a winger", he said.
"I've always seen myself as a central striker and aim to play there every game. I just want to play though and if Wenger wants me to play on the wing, then that's what I'll do. Last season I was primarily used on the left side. This season I'm being used on the right but as I said, I just want to play central" he continued.
See the goals here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swc3cYg3szs&feature=related
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