Portugal earned their first points of EURO 2012 as they overcame a very well drilled Denmark side by three goals to two in Lviv. A Nicklas Bendtner brace was not enough to earn the Danes a point as goals from Pepe, Helder Postiga and Silvestre Varela secured a win for the Portuguese.
The early threat seemed to arrive in the shape of the Danish midfield. While passing the ball around effortlessly in midfield as well as winning three corners in succession, but Christian Eriksen and Co were well aware of the threat posed in behind if they lost possession. With the pace of Nani and Ronaldo on either flank, the first genuine goalscoring opportunity was always likely to arrive on the counter attack; and so it did.
Twelve minutes into the encounter, Portugal could have taken the lead. Midfield starlet Miguel Veloso crossed majestically toward the head of Helder Postiga, only to have the ball punched away from under his nose.
A few moments later, Ronaldo produced his first effort of the game, albeit, well wide of Andersen’s goal. Midfield partner Raul Meireles took a strike from distance which cannoned back off Kjaer, only to find the Real Madrid winger swinging at the rebound. The effort did not threaten whatsoever.
Soon after Portugal did score from a set piece. Joao Moutinho swung in a fantastic corner to the near post. Pepe was first to the ball and his glancing header was enough to beat Andersen at his near post.
Ten minutes later, the Portuguese had their advantage doubled. A ball into the box was well cleared, but Nani got a second bite of the cherry and his drilled, low ball across the face of goal was met by a clever near post run by Helder Postiga. The frontman smashed home from all of eight yards.
Just as it looked like Denmark may be down and out before the half, they struck. A fantastic cross toward the back post was met sublimely by Michael Krohn-Dehli. His composure allowed him to head the ball across the face of goal, for fellow striker Nicklas Bendtner to nod home from close range. The Portuguese led at half time.
The second half began in much the same way as the first; very few chances and both sides keeping possession very well. Ronaldo was the first with a chance, although his effort was straight at Andersen despite being clean through on goal. Portugal’s key player seemed rather off song.
William Kvist almost restored parity on the hour mark but his powerful volley went just inches over the crossbar. While Portugal seemed to be on the front foot, one felt that perhaps Denmark could snatch an equaliser if the Portuguese kept spurning chances.
The game changed shortly afterwards; it was Denmark who took control. Bendtner was the obvious danger for the Portugal defence as his presence seemed to be causing all sorts of problems. He was presented with a glorious chance just twenty minutes from the end but his shot went well wide of goal, much to the disgust of his teammates.
Portugal should have sealed the win just ten minutes from the end. A clever run off the shoulder from Ronaldo found him go one on one with Andersen once more. With the angle suiting him, and Andersen virtually committed to the ground, it seemed an easy task for the goalscoring machine. Somehow, he managed to side foot his effort wide of goal.
After Ronaldo’s miss, there was almost a sense of inevitability about the Danish equalising, and so they did. Lars Jacobsen crossed on the overlap toward the back post, and that man Bendtner rose highest to knock the ball past Patricio. The Danes looked as though they had stolen a point.
That was not to be the end of the drama though, as Portugal won possession back on half way. Coentrao made a darting run down the left wing and crossed towards Varela at the back post. He misfired with his original effort, but fortuitously, the ball landed next to his right boot. He swung at the ball and the power alone beat Andersen and restored the Portuguese lead right at the death.
Portugal: Rui Patricio; Joao Periera, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao; Raul Meireles (Silvestre Varela 85), Miguel Veloso, Joao Moutinho; Cristiano Ronaldo, Helder Postiga (Nelson Olivieira 63), Nani (Rolando Fonseca 88).
Subs not used: Eduardo Caralho, Beto, Ricardo Costa, Miguel Lopes, Custodio Castro, Ricardo Quaresma, Ruben Micael, Hugo Viana, Hugo Almeida.
Denmark: Stephan Andersen; Lars Jacobsen, Simon Kjaer, Daniel Agger, Simon Poulsen; Christian Eriksen; William Kvist, Niki Zimling; Michael Krohn-Dehli (Lasse Schone 90), Dennis Rommedahl (Tobias Mikkelsen 60), Nicklas Bendtner.
Subs not Used: Anders Lindegaard, Thomas Kahlenberg, Andreas Bjelland, Jores Okore, Nicklas Pedersen, Christian Poulsen, Jakob Poulsen, Michael Silberbauer, Daniel Wass.
Referee: Craig Thompson (Scotland).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Miguel Veloso.
Andrew joined Extratime for the 2010 season and covers all the on-goings down in Limerick. Having first experienced the League of Ireland in 2002, Andrew became hooked, even at such an early age. He is currently studying English and New Media at the University of Limerick. You can contact him via Twitter @Cunneen92.