Late Denmark winner puts pressure on Switzerland to beat Ireland on Tuesday
Denmark 1 Switzerland 0
Yussuf Poulsen’s late winner against Switzerland moved Denmark level with Ireland at the top of their Euro 2020 qualifying group.
The victory at a packed Parken Stadium in Copenhagen was the first in the meetings of the top three and heightens the stakes ahead of Ireland’s trip to Geneva on Tuesday.
Six minutes from the end of underwhelming performance from the Danes, who had Kasper Schmeichel to thank to for tipping two shots onto the crossbar, Christian Eriksen sent Poulsen clear with a reverse pass and he stroked the ball past Yann Sommer.
For the Swiss, they are four points behind the front pair with a game in hand. Given they follow Tuesday’s game with Ireland by facing Georgia and Gibraltar in a double-header, the pool’s top seeds remain very much in the mix for one of the two automatic qualifying tickets.
After suffering the same fate of Ireland by dropping points in Georgia last month, Denmark required a response to get back into contention.
Manager Åge Hareide, their most noticeable absentee in Tbilisi due to knee surgery, sprung a selection surprise by parachuting Andreas Cornelius straight back into the team. The Parma forward hasn’t been involved for almost a year but got the nod ahead of Kasper Dolberg.
He was getting plenty of nods early on at the Parken Stadium as the targetman’s aerial strengths were central to their gameplan. The former Cardiff City striker’s knockdown found Martin Braithwaite but his effort was blocked by Lichtsteiner.
Thereafter the Swiss took control and should have been ahead by the break. From a corner that was only half cleared, Granit Xhaka skipped past Eriksen and saw his left-footed curler saved onto the upright.
Schmeichel was again at his brilliant best to deny Admir Mehmedi with another one-handed save after the Wolfsburg sprung the offside trap to connect with a volley.
At the other end, Eriksen scuffed a shot with his only chance of the half. It was a rather subdued opening 45 minutes for the unsettled Tottenham attacker.
Switzerland continued to utilise their wing-backs after the break, as Ricardo Rodriguez’s screamer forced the Danish custodian to tip onto the crossbar and over.
For all the appeals of the home crowd for their side to attack, Denmark were slow in their execution. Thomas Delaney’s downward header that bounced wide was the best they could muster.
That was until a piece of brilliance of Eriksen settled the game. With his back to goal near the left touchline, he spotted the run of Poulsen rampaging clear. The RB Leipzig kept his cool to slot the ball past the advancing Sommer.
There was still time for another Schmeichel save.
Deep into stoppage time, inside a crowded box, Delaney’s backward header was veering into the bottom corner until the Leicester City man stopped low to stop it crossing the line.
Denmark: K Schmeichel; H Dalsgaard, S Kjaer, A Christensen (M Jorgensen 85), J Stryger-Larsen (P Ankersen 79); L Schone (P Hoejbjerg 65), T Delaney; Y Poulsen, C Eriksen, M Braithwaite; A Cornelius.
Switzerland: Y Sommer; N Elvedi, P Schar, M Akanji; G Xhaka; S Lichtsteiner (K Mbabu 68), D Zakaria, A Mehmedi (R Freuler 84), R Rodriguez (J Drmic 88); B Embolo, H Seferovic.
Referee: Aleksei Kulbakov (BLR).