A goal from Yussuf Poulson helped Denmark scrape to a 1-0 victory over Peru, who dominated the majority of the game but failed to take their chances.
Peru were at a World Cup for the first time since Spain 1982 and could have been in front but Christian Cueva missed a great opportunity from the penalty spot.
Denmark were not at their best, but a goal from Poulson in the second half coupled with some brave defending means the Danes grabbed a vital win to open the group.
This was a game that both teams see as must-win if they are to qualify after France’s 2-1 win over Australia earlier in the day, For Peru, they were ready to play on the counter-attack while Denmark’s revolved around a long-ball to their striker to let Christian Eriksen feed on the knockdowns. It was a brave tactic with the likes of Ajax’s Kaspar Dolberg left on the bench, but the attention was on Tottenham Hotspur’s attacking midfielder to shine.
Unfortunately for Eriksen, Denmark couldn’t keep up with the stylish quick passing from Peru in the first half. Yoshimar Yotun went close with a long-range dipper that was well-saved by Kaspar Schmeichel while moments later, the Leicester City goalkeeper was at his best to keep out a curling effort from Andre Carillo.
The attacking movement from the first half completely came from the South American side. Jefferson Farfan was played in with a nice pass by Carillo, but Simon Kjaer did well to get across with a sliding block that deflected the shot into the side-netting.
Peru haven’t played at a World Cup game in 36 years, but they had a major opportunity to take the lead when VAR decided they would have a penalty in the 44th minute. It was Cueva who was clipped by the standing leg of Poulson, but the referee waived away the appeals. Minutes later, the game was stopped for a VAR Penalty Review and the decision was reversed in Peru’s favour.
Cueva dusted himself down and stepped up to take the spot-kick with thousands of Peruvian fans watching on. It was perhaps the biggest moment of his career, but the tricky winger didn’t stick to the script as he skied the penalty well over the ball to the gasp of the stand behind the goal.
Denmark only had around 700 fans inside the stadium but it was them who were celebrating as the European side opened the scoring after 59 minutes. Peru’ attacking play was their downfall this time and Denmark caught them with a lightning quick counter-attack. Eriksen pulled the strings with a lovely pass through to Poulson who faced up to the whites of the goal-frame and slipped the ball into the corner at the near post. It was a lovely finish from the winger, but Denmark will know they were scraping their lead.
Once they were in the lead, Denmark defended like warriors. They were throwing everything in front of the ball so Peru turned to their returning captain Paolo Guerrero. The striker was set to miss the tournament but had a ban overturned to be part of the squad and very nearly pulled Peru level with a clever back-heel that flew inches wide of the post.
Peru’s best chance came within the final ten minutes, but a brilliant goal-line clearance from Kjaer kept Denmark’s lead intact. It was great play by Carillo on the right wing and he pulled the ball back perfectly for Farfan, but the striker’s goal-bound effort was clipped away from the line by the outstretched leg of the Danish central defender.
Peru will feel aggrieved by not getting anything from the game, but the lesson to be learned was clear. Denmark had one real opportunity and took it with a clever finish, so Peru need to be more ruthless to get more World Cup points.
Written by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)