Mile Jedinak scored from the spot for the second game in a row as Australia came from behind to hold Denmark to a 1-1 draw.
The Danes started well and led the game through a Christian Eriksen stunner, but VAR would have a hand in pegging them back.
After the official was ushered into awarding a penalty, Jedinak stepped up to fire into the bottom corner and Australia gained their first point of the tournament.
Both of these teams came into the game with contrasting circumstances following their opening games. Denmark knew a win would seal progression into the knock-out rounds, while Australia needed to get something after a loss to France so both sides were ready for an open, attacking game. That’s what we got.
It was the Aussies who got the first good chance in the Russian sun, but it wasn’t taken. It was a lovely corner from the right by Huddersfield Town’s Aaron Mooy, but Mathew Leckie couldn’t direct his powerful header towards goal as his effort flew wide from ten yards out. It was a free header and a good chance, but Denmark weren’t so wasteful in the seventh minute.
It was a goal of real quality and it’s no surprise that it came from Denmark’s creative force. Eriksen’s finish was special with a sweet left-footed half-volley, but the great pass into him from Nicolai Jorgensen deserves credit too as it split Australia apart. It was a great goal in a complete sense and Denmark looked confident with their lead.
Jorgensen should have doubled the Danish lead midway through the second half as Australia were holding on to their World Cup campaign. It was a pinpoint delivery from the right back Henrik Dalsgaard that was perfect for the centre-forward to attack, but his header was off-target from a position that he should have at least hit the target.
They ended up regretting that miss, partly in thanks to the intervention of FIFA’s newest toy. Mooy’s corner was met by a bustling header from Leckie and as the ball flew away, there were loud appeals for a penalty from the Aussie players. The referee didn’t look interested, but moments later, he whistled for a break in play as he was advised to look at the VAR.
He made his mind up on the first replay as he was awarded a penalty and while it may have been harsh, it looked a good decision. It was Yussuf Poulson who was penalised and the winger certainly had his arms in an unnatural position. Aston Villa’s Jedinak was happy to take advantage, converting the penalty with ease to become the second highest Australian scorer at a World Cup, only behind Tim Cahill.
The celebrations were nearly turned on their head right at the end of the first half. It was the dangerous Eriksen who panicked the Australia defence with a fizzing low free-kick, but Mathew Ryan was alert to keep the ball out after a wicked deflection off of Trent Sainsbury. It was very nearly a trademark own goal from the set-piece goalkeeper, but the Brighton goalkeeper showed his good reactions with a smart save.
The second half proved to be a much tighter affair. Denmark started to stutter while Australia were roaring, but lacked the polished finish their play deserved. Mooy went the closest with a rocket from range, but Leicester’s Kaspar Schmeichel was relieved to see it fly narrowly wide of the top corner.
In the end, both sides will be pleased avoiding a loss, but the result has left it all to play for in the final group game.