‘Lucky’ Danes aim to crush Socceroos’ dreams
AFTER scoring a "lucky" win against Peru, Denmark players have turned their attention to Australia, knowing a win will almost certainly guarantee qualification to the second round.
Australia will have to probably have to beat Denmark in Samara on Thursday (10pm AEST) to retain hopes of qualifying for the second round of the World Cup, but will have to do so against a Danish team that has not been beaten for 16 games and has not conceded a goal for five.
Midfielder Martin Braithwaite conceded his team had not played well in the win over Peru.
"We were a bit lucky today, we were lucky we had (goalkeeper) Kasper Schmeichel,'' he said.
Denmark beat Peru 1-0 with a goal from Yurary Poulsen who finished off a slashing counter attack with a neat finish which ensured his team claimed all three points from their first game in the group.
But Denmark had to withstand a furious Peru barrage in the second half to claim the win.
Midfielder Christian Cueva missed a first-half penalty for Peru, skying it high over the bar, but Peru would miss many more chances in the second period, frustrated by some Schmeichel heroics and its own lack of composure in front of goal.
It was a pulsating game in the Mordovia Arena, inspired by a raucous, vibrant crowd, of which at least 90 per cent were Peruvian who had made the long journey to celebrate their country's first appearance in the World Cup finals since 1982.
"For a moment I thought we were in South America,'' Braithwaite said.
"It was a really great atmosphere, it felt like a World Cup and there was a lot of passion. It is these moments as a player that you live for.''
Despite Braithwaite's assertion that his team didn't play well enough on the night, they demonstrated enough to provide headaches for Bert van Marwijk and his Australian team.
Tottenham Hotspur star Christian Eriksen provided the crucial pass for the winning goal and even while not dominating the game, radiated danger whenever he had the ball.
Forward Pione Sisto has quick feet and a good pass, while captain Simon Kjaer was inspirational in defence as the Peruvians launched waves of attacks.
Denmark prides itself on its ability to play different styles of play and is just as comfortable knocking the ball to feet as it is launching a long ball forward.
Braithwaite, who was loaned out to French club Bordeaux after an underwhelming start to his career in English football with Middlesborough, conceded he didn't know much about the Australian team.
However, he said he had been impressed while watching the Socceroos' narrow defeat to France earlier in the day.
"I think it's going to be a tough game,'' he said.
"I saw them today against France and they looked like a really difficult team to play. It will be a really tight game.
"If we win that one it looks good to qualify from the group, so we are already concentrated about playing a good game against Australia and win.''