A first-half penalty miss by Christian Cueva was punished by Yussuf Poulsen’s second-half strike as Denmark defeated an unlucky Peru 1-0 in Saransk.
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Peru, one of the most supported countries in Russia, took the field on Saturday hoping it’ll be able to surprise its European counterpart Denmark and keep pace with Group C’s leader France. The game was played in Saransk’s Mordovia Arena. On the wave of the atmosphere created by the crowd, the Peruvians were very spirited to start the match, not giving its opponent time to relax. Kasper Schmeichel had to make a stretching save on Carrillo’s effort in the 13th minute in what was the game’s first serious threat. There was a period of continuous possession by Denmark afterwards that ended in a great block by Simon Kjaer on Jefferson Farfan’s shot attempt on the opposite side of the field. William Kvist took a knee to his chest by Farfan minutes before that and even though he did his best to move on, he couldn’t. Age Hareide was forced to take him off and send Ajax’s Lasse Schone on the pitch.
Renato Tapia did a dangerous thing by fouling Pione Sisto right on the edge of the box and in a perfection position for free-kick master Christian Eriksen. He received a yellow card for his challenge, but was not punished further by Denmark’s main man. In the 44th minute, we had another VAR moment today. Gambian referee Bakary Gassama went to the review screen to check whether Yussuf Poulsen tripped Christian Cueva and determined that it was a foul, changing his decision to a penalty kick. Cueva himself nervously took the penalty and send the ball high over the bar. The half ended with no goals in either net.
In the 56th minute, Cueva was left all alone on the wing, he dribbled past two opponents inside the penalty area and then when he was supposed to make the critical pass, he sent it between Carrillo and Edison Flores. None of them managed to get a shot away and the chance was squandered away. Replays showed that Cueva was offside. A mistake in the defensive midfield setup and a failed offside trap cost Peru dearly in the 59th minute. Eriksen found Yussuf Poulsen, who was alone with the keeper and didn’t make a mistake. The Danes made the first break through. Ricardo Gareca’s men tried to respond fast and Flores did have a nice opportunity to do so, but his shot was saved by Schmeichel.
A minute later, Flores was replaced by Peruvian football legend Paolo Guerrero. Pione Sisto was the next player to leave the pitch, having been replaced by Martin Braithwaite. Peru began pushing forward and putting more and more pressure. Their energy throughout this game was phenomenal and they definitely didn’t deserve to be losing. Guerrero nearly scored a fantastic backheel goal in the 80th minute. Luckily for Schmeichel, the ball went a few centimeters past the post. In the 84th minute, Jefferson Farfan had the best opportunity of the game. He had an open goal in front him, but he shot the ball right in the middle. Schmeichel and Kjaer simultaneously blocked the attempt.
Eriksen could’ve easily sealed the Denmark win a couple of minutes later, as he came face-to-face with Pedro Gallese. His left-footed strike hit the keeper’s shoulder. After five minutes of injury time, the referee blew the final whistle. Denmark tied France with three points at the top of Group C, while Peru will go into the second match versus Australia without points, despite being the better opponent. Destiny simply wasn’t on La Blanquirroja’s side today.