Jun 13, 2012, 2:31 PM EDT
Man of the match: Nani had an amazing night, if quietly so. Though he assisted on Portugal’s second goal, most of his work went unrewarded. Playing on the right flank, he created a number of turnovers, shutting down Simon Poulsen (who had been so good against the Dutch). Nani passing was excellent, deserving a second assist on a missed Ronaldo chance in the 78th minute.
Packaged for takeaway:
- It was practically a must-win match, and Portugal came through, taking advantage of lax defending on the first two goals and a dazzling finish when they needed a winner.
- The first goal came off a corner. Great delivery from Joao Moutinho found Pepe on a near post run, Daniel Agger having lost his mark amid a crowd of Portuguese runners.
- It was the start of a strong night of Pepe, with the Real Madrid star taking over at the back for long stretches of the second half. The only thing which kept him from Man of the Match was being the defender nearest Nicklas Bendtner on the late, equalizing goal, though it’s debatable whether Pepe should have been expected to prevent it.
- Portugal’s second goal seemed to be a function of lazy Danish defending. They defense had sunk deeper and deeper to position themselves for balls sent in from wide. On Fabio Coentrao’s ball from the left, Denmark was set nine yards from goal and didn’t push after it was headed clear. The clearance was eventually played to Nani on the right, 15 yards from the line, who had no pressure on him when finding Helder Postiga cutting across the box.
- Denmark’s first goal was beautiful. Michael Krahn-Dehli switched the ball right for Lars Jacobsen, who played back to Jakob Poulsen. Poulsen curled a ball from 30 yards out to the far post, where Krahn-Dehli had beat Joao Periera. With Riu Patricio coming to contest a shot, Krahn-Dehli played a header back across the box for Bendtner, who finished for a yard out.
- It was a disappointing goal to concede right before halftime, but Portugal came out in the second having never lost their composure. Denmark dominated possession but created almost no chances, with Portugal looking more likely to score.
- Cristiano Ronaldo was twice given open chances on goal by Nani. The first came when Helder Postiga dummied a long ball from the right, Denmark’s defense failing to account for Ronaldo. Stephan Andersen came out to make a nice save on a shot from 16 yards out. In the 78th minute, Nani gave Ronaldo another chance, but with Andersen going down early, Ronaldo pushed his shot wide.
- When Bendtner equalized, Ronaldo’s misses loomed large. Again, it was a near-perfectly executed goal. Lars Jacobsen had to cross from deep on the right for Bendtner, who had to position himself outside the far post. The shot went just inside the left upright, grazed off Rui Patricio’s hand, and went in.
- It was fitting that a well-executed Portugal goal won the game, though Denmark may ask why, when they were protecting their point, Silvestre Valera was given a second chance to win the game. Fabio Coentrao’s cross was met with a meek left-footed shot from the substitute, but turning on the rebound, Valera blasted an unstoppable shot just inside the right post.
- Coentrao also had a strong Man of the Match shout.
- For Denmark, you have to regret ever giving Portugal control of the match. The first 20 minutes were evenly played, but Denmark was too meek at the back, an attitude that conceded the first two goals. From there, Portugal was allowed to play their more comfortable, defensive approach, and although Denmark would end with 60 percent possession, they couldn’t get three points.
- As a result, Denmark fails to build on their upset of the Netherlands and now need some help to get out of group. Portugal has the tiebreaker, should the teams end up even, though a number of three-way tie scenarios are still in play.
- Portugal, on the other hand, have every reason to be happy with the result. It wasn’t a must-win game (they could have drawn and had a slim chance of surviving), but a win gives them needed confidence going into a final group game against the Netherlands.
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