Denmark draws hope from Euro 2020 after slow World Cup start

Ryan Pierse / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Doha, Nov 26, 2022 (AFP) - Denmark's narrow defeat to holders France on Saturday means they will go into their final World Cup group game with their hopes of qualifying for the last 16 on a knife-edge, but coach Kasper Hjulmand said what happened at Euro 2020 showed his side what can be achieved.

The Danes lost their first two group games in last year's delayed European Championship against Finland and Belgium, yet a solitary win against Russia in their final match was enough to progress in second place.

From there they went on to reach the semi-finals in a remarkable performance from a side traumatized when Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest on the field in the defeat against Finland.

In Qatar, with a healthy Eriksen back in the side, Denmark were held 0-0 by Tunisia in their first match before being sunk on Saturday by Kylian Mbappe's late winner as they went down 2-1.

"Maybe it is a little bit like the Euros, where we played Belgium in the second game and in the second half we were too cautious and we lost 2-1, like this one," said Hjulmand, whose side face Australia next.

Denmark are stuck on one point in Group D, two points behind Australia, but a victory against the Socceroos should see them advance, so long as Tunisia do not beat France and do so by a greater winning margin.

"Let's see. We hope we can get back on track and win the next one but we have great respect for Australia," added Hjulmand, whose team's only goal so far in Qatar has come from defender Andreas Christensen.

"You cannot just expect to push a button and score a lot of goals, but we also had zero points after the first two games in the Euros, so we still have hope."

Christensen's second-half equalizer looked set to earn Denmark a point at Doha's Stadium 974 before Mbappe - who earlier opened the scoring - struck again with four minutes left.

"They have a crazy team. He's a top player, has a lot of qualities, and today he scored two goals, so you can never say you defended him good, but we tried to be close to him," said Danish winger Jesper Lindstrom of the Paris Saint-Germain star.

"He has the quality to score the goals when he has the chances," Lindstrom added.

Defeat was especially disappointing for Denmark after they held France to a goalless draw at the 2018 World Cup and beat Les Bleus home and away in this year's Nations League, keeping Mbappe quiet in all of those encounters.

"At the Stade de France, we did great, but our second goal was almost offside in France and in Copenhagen Kasper Schmeichel made a great save from Mbappe at 1-0," said Hjulmand.

"France had a little bit more opportunities tonight, and that is why they won, but it is a tight game."

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Denmark draws hope from Euro 2020 after slow World Cup start
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