After two very emotional games Denmark had three points, having beaten Holland 1 – 0 and lost 3 -2 to Portugal.
They needed at least a draw and a Dutch victory to see them through to the quarter finals. A win would also do, but defeating the Germans, who had won their previous two games ,seemed unlikely at the outset.
The Danes had previously set up stall in their defensive 4-2-3-1 formation and Sunday night was no exception. The tactic was clear from the start having been drawn in the group of death they would try and hang deep, suck up the pressure and try and score on the counter-attack.
The Germans had made small but what proved to be significant changes in playing both birthday boy Podolski up front and Bender at right back. They quickly settled into their game putting the Danes under plenty of pressure and forcing Agger and co. into action. The Danes replied with a set piece, finding Bendtner at the back of the box who headed the ball back into the six yard box to be cleared by Badstuber.
News from the other group came in that the Dutch had taken the lead and, as it stood, that meant that both Germany and Denmark would qualify. This coincided he Germans kept on applying the pressure though and the Danes started to play deeper and deeper in their own half.
With 19 minutes played and having had the majority of the game, Germany took the lead with a Podolski strike.
The Danes though were quick to retaliate and had equalized within 5 minutes through Krohn-Dehli. The goal came from a corner and was a repeat of the set piece from before. The corner was whipped over to the back of the box to Bendtner who in turn headed it into the six yard box and Krohn-Dehli swiveled and headed it into goal out of reach of Neuer.
The rest of the half the Danes succeeded in shepherding the ball and the Germans from any really big chances as they tried to hold for 1-1 and hope for the Dutch to finally win a game. This, however, proved not to be the case as Ronaldo struck late into the first half making it all square there too.
This meant the Danes needed to do something no-one so far has accomplished at the Euros, they needed to score a second goal against the Germans. In fact they came really close in the second half. They had more of the ball and managed at times to stretch the Germans, in particular from Simon Poulsen, whose attack down the left found Bendtner in the box. He played the ball back for the incoming Jacob Poulsen who took two touches before firing in a low shot which clipped the post and out. Their biggest chance was yet to come.
On 66 minutes Denmark are awarded a free kick in the middle of the Pitch. Daniel Agger took the free kick playing it over the top of the German defense and finding Bendtner through on goal. Badstuber quite clearly pulled him down in the box, but even so Bendtner managed to keep his balance and tried to lob Neuer before crashing to the ground. Watching on TV it was clear as day that there should have been a penalty.
Okay, the ref didn’t see it, but what is the point of having the extra assistant referee behind the goals if not to cover all the angles and stop those cheating Germans? This was then yet another case where you are left wishing UEFA would allow teams to appeal for a camera ruling.
Soon after the Danes attacking game petered out as the Germans again exerted their more direct play on the game. Olsen decided he had seen enough and made one of the strangest substitutions of the tournament by taking Zimling off for the bungling Christian Poulsen.
It was, however, the ever eager Simon Poulsen who was dispossessed too far up field, as the Germans broke quickly finding space down Poulsen’s left hand side. Ozil with a defence splitting pass found Bender who slotted home for victory, making it three wins out of three for the Germans.
The Danes though can go out of the tournament with their heads held high as they yet again reminded Europe that they are a team not to be taken lightly. Next up for them will be the World Cup qualifiers where they are drawn in group B with Italy and the Czech Republic. No small task, but as we've shown, we're up to big tasks.
Neil Paterson has been following Denmark throughout the tournament. You can follow him on Twitter.
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