Denmark has given themselves a huge chance to progress out of Group C at the FIFA World Cup™ after a 1-0 win over Peru on Sunday morning (AEST).
While the South Americans dominated the clash at the Mordovia Arena – including 17 shots at goal – Yussuf Poulsen struck the decisive goal just before the hour mark.
Poulsen was involved in the other big talking point of the match in the first-half, deemed to have tripped Christian Cueva in the box after the referee consulted the Video Assistant Referee.
Fortunately for the Danes, Cueva sent his spot-kick high over the crossbar and left the pitch in tears at half-time.
"At half-time we told him [Cueva] that he had to keep playing strong. People make mistakes and we have to try and turn things around. He has the character to do that," Peru coach Ricardo Gareca said.
"After the penalty he was asking for the ball, participating in play – that's the only way. You have to try and overcome this kind of adversity. He is a very strong player with a very strong character and mindset."
The introduction of Paolo Guerrero off the bench couldn’t inspire Peru to find an equaliser despite carving out a host of chances, with Denmark keeper Kasper Schmeichel pulling off a string of fine saves.
Both sides lined-up with similar 4-2-3-1 formations but it was the South Americans, roared on by hordes of fans, who settled the better into the match.
Peru did well to shut-down the space and time on the ball of Denmark star Christian Eriksen, who was a periphery figure for most of the match.
It meant the Danes were often stuck deep in their own half, forced to knock the ball long and rely on set-pieces for the best moments.
In contrast, Peru were positive and energetic, looking to go forward at any opportunity.
Yoshimar Yotun, Edison Flores and Andre Carrillo all rifled off shots inside the first 13 minutes as Peru flew out of the blocks, Schmeichel pulling off a diving save to deny the latter.
It wasn’t until 18 minutes before half-time when Denmark offered their first threat through Thomas Delaney before the big moment of the half.
The referee pointed to the spot upon reviewing VAR footage but to Peru’s dismay, Cueva couldn’t convert.
It proved a huge turning point for Denmark. They looked more assured after the restart and pushed forward more in search of a breakthrough.
And it came on 59 minutes. For the first time, Eriksen was able to run through the middle of the field, feeding Poulsen, who slotted the ball low to the left of Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.
Peru continued to create chances as they searched for an equaliser with the best coming late-on to Jefferson Farfan, only for Schmeichel to make a great save with his feet as Denmark clung on for the win.
"Peru are an outstanding team. They have a quick style of play, and we know and have a lot of respect for them,” Denmark boss Age Hareide said.
"They got very little and probably deserved more – sometimes that happens. We were on the lucky side."
While they have a crucial three points on the board, the manner Denmark’s performance will boost the Socceroos hopes when the two nations meet in Samara on Thursday night (AEST), live on SBS and Optus Sport at 10pm.
Peru will look to keep their hopes alive when they face France.
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