SAMARA: Denmark were the happier with a 1-1 draw against Australia in Group B in Samara which left the Socceroos facing a struggle to remain in the tournament despite their attempts to chase victory in the closing stages.
Denmark appeared on cruise control after seizing an early lead through Christian Eriksen but allowed control to slip from their grasp and lived rather more dangerously in defence than coach Age Hareide would have appreciated.
Feyenoord forward Nicolai Jorgensen set up Eriksen’s goal after seven minutes, controlling the ball on his chest and provided a perfect lay-off for the Tottenham playmaker to volley his 13th goal in his last 15 internationals.
Australia responded in positive fashion and equalised in the 38th minute, courtesy of the latest intervention from VAR and change of heart by Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz.
Aaron Mooy swung in a right-wing corner, Mathew Leckie leaped to head goalwards and the ball ricocheted away off the flapping arm of Yussuf Poulsen. Socceroos’ captain Mile Jedinak coolly rolled home his 12th spot-kick for his country to maintain his 100pc record and score the 26th goal of the 47 in the finals thus far from a set piece.
This was Jedinak’s third penalty goal at World Cups and lifted him among six other players who have scored at least as many: Rob Rensenbrink (Holland, four), Gabriel Batistuta (Argentina, four), Eusebio (Portugal, four), Johan Neeskens (Holland, three), Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria, three) and Fernando Hierro (Spain, three).
Poulsen, who was shown his second yellow card of the finals, was the first player to concede two penalties in a single World Cup since Milan Dudic in 2006 for Serbia. Poulsen had also conceded against Peru but was saved then by Christian Cueva’s off-target spot-kick.
The penalty was also the 11th awarded in this year’s group stages, one more than in the entire group stages in Brazil four years ago.
Australia were the more aggressive after the interval. Mooy and Tom Rogic both went close while Pione Sisto flattered only to deceive as Denmark looked to his trickery in vain to try to reopen the Socceroos’ defence.