Generally soccer will not be fairly. Generally doing simply sufficient, simply lengthy sufficient, can lay the muse, open the door. So it was at Al Janoub Stadium, the place a counter-attack ended Australia’s agony and Denmark’s World Cup marketing campaign. It took 60 minutes for Mat Leckie to attain a superb solo objective, an infinite hour of defending and a few optimistic moments, and a objective from Tunisia in opposition to France that meant the Socceroos must win or be out themselves.
Ultimately, it was Denmark’s impotence within the second half that ended their event prematurely, their early brilliance fading within the face of a soccer group that left it late however rallied once they needed to and as soon as once more confirmed a degree of high quality that belied their inexperience.
And palms held mouths inside the bottom till the ultimate whistle, when Christian Eriksen whipped in two harmful corners and Harry Souttar made one, two, three important interventions to ship Graham Arnold’s facet into the final 16 for the primary time since. 2006. On Saturday (Sunday morning AEDT) they play Lionel Messi’s Argentina, within the continuation of a World Cup full of upsets and implosions.
The latter is Denmark’s lot. Their coach, Kasper Hjulmand, wanted three factors to remain within the reckoning, and even then that may have been undone by Tunisia’s defeat to a second-string France facet who rested aching our bodies for the knockout phases understanding they’d already certified . Scenes of jubilation and heartbreak had been already nicely beneath method when Antoine Griezmann seemingly equalized for France from the bench, which means a draw would have been sufficient, solely to have it chalked up.
The query had at all times been which Denmark would emerge: the torpid group that drew with Tunisia or the plucky model that misplaced to France solely via the standard of Kylian Mbappé. Mbappé was one in all 9 modifications Didier Deschamps named on the Training Metropolis Stadium, sending a wave of dismay throughout the town – a win in Tunisia was not good for both facet right here.
And as Tunisia started to dominate the B group, Eriksen began the sport free and on the transfer via the center, solely to be thwarted by Milos Degenek. Within the very subsequent second, Riley McGree had gone for a long-range shot and was grinning after it ricocheted off Joakim Mæhle.
That set the tone and the subsequent 20 minutes unfolded like this: Aaron Mooy turned the ball over cheaply in Australia’s half. Mæhle battered Degenek as Leckie chased in vein. Ultimately, the duty fell to Mat Ryan. Time and again he contorted his limbs right into a kind of doorstop, his end line welcoming no man. Jumped excessive at his close to publish to disclaim Jensen, slammed down a foot to cease a rolling ball, raced off his line to cease Martin Braithwaite earlier than he was even performed on.
Mitchell Duke discovered McGree’s chest and the shot whizzed straight to Kasper Schmeichel. Souttar’s head was nearer to the sky than the remaining. Tunisia scored; it was dominated offside.
The referee, Mustapha Ghorbal, additionally threw himself. Aziz Behich was yellow carded inside three minutes for a cynical sort out on Skov Olsen. Jesper Lindstrøm was penalized for a push on Degenek. Leckie was pulled up exhausting for a tangle with Christensen, leaving him irritated with the inexperienced and gold nook. Olsen someway wasn’t booked for sliding proper via Duke’s again.
Denmark had been slick and clean on the ball. They clamped down on their opponents with exact passing, thought of and environment friendly, an image of financial system to Australia’s toil. Eriksen was free and floating at leisure, the skin of his left boot a vacationer in a brand new neighborhood. It was all pretty to see, even when nothing got here of it.
However they had been livelier to start with. The worry for Australia was that the Socceroos had already performed their last in opposition to Tunisia. It was exhausting to inform if it was fatigue or the dimensions of the event, however Lindstrøm had a subject day down the left flank and tied Souttar to Mæhle who was thwarted by Aaron Mooy.
Australia’s brightest second got here in first-half stoppage time when Duke arrange Craig Goodwin who, whizzing in direction of the left-hand nook flag, skimmed a low cross that no person was there to transform.
Halftime can change video games. We noticed it final week when Hervé Renard blew up a rocket in Saudi Arabia and so they got here again to beat Argentina. We do not know what occurred within the Australian dressing room at halftime however they emerged revitalized. The territory was taken again after which ceded once more. Rowles was hit clear within the chest by Olsen and doubled over. Lindstrøm reduce the infield and acquired able to shoot.
Tunisia scored. Arnold had a phrase together with his dugout. An Eriksen nook sailed agonizingly near the objective. Australia intercepted and McGree handed to Leckie. He bumped into acres of house on the midway line, dribbled round Mæhle and curled a surprising end that whistled over Schmeichel and snuck into the underside proper nook.
Denmark misplaced their marbles then – and a penalty. Eriksen swung in a excessive free-kick and Ghorbal blew for a penalty as Souttar beat Dolberg within the field. No sooner had he accomplished it than the offside flag went up on Dolberg.
Keanu Baccus, off the bench, drew a foul and yellow card from Robert Skov. Arnold made extra modifications, bringing on Jamie MacLaren for Duke, after which defender Bailey Wright, who changed McGree to assist hold Denmark’s late run at bay throughout six minutes of stoppage time as Souttar produced moments of ferocity that can once more be praised.
When the full-time whistle blew, Australia’s bench stormed the pitch, and the coach was so buried within the physique that Hjulmand needed to fish him out to shake his hand.
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