Danish forward Yussuf Poulsen tucked away the only goal in the 59th minute of a very tight contest to see Denmark edge past Peru in the FIFA World Cup opener for both teams. They now sit joint-top of Group C with France.
Peru’s attack was threatening in the first half and it looked like they would take the lead when Christian Cueva was brought down in the box just before halftime. But following a long stutter-step-filled run-up, Cueva skied the ensuing penalty kick over the bar.
The Danes went in front soon after the break. Midfield maestro Christian Eriksen played Poulsen in on goal with an incisive through ball, which he calmly slotted just inside the near post to give Denmark a 1-0 advantage.
Following the goal, Denmark dropped deep and allowed Peru to have more of the possession. After the drama surrounding his eligibility to play during the weeks before the tournament, Peruvian striker Paolo Guerrero came on as a substitute in the 62nd minute and changed the dynamic of the team’s attack.
The South Americans generated chance after chance in the latter stages of the game, but a lack of clinical finishing and some big saves from Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel cost Peru a result in their first World Cup match in 36 years.
Peru will feel hard done by the outcome, especially since they failed to convert on the barrage of chances they had to get an equaliser. Right-back Luis Advincula was the bright spot on the day, providing width for the attacks and making multiple key blocks to stifle Danish attacks.
Though there are positives to take away, it will now be an uphill battle for Peru to qualify for the knockout stages as they need a result against France.
On the other side, it was a massive three points for Denmark, who would now likely advance with one win from their remaining two matches. The strong defensive effort and team-first approach were keys to victory for the Danes. They will be delighted with the result against a quality opponent even though they never really hit top gear.
Both teams play next on Thursday, as Denmark take on Australia and Peru try to shock France.
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