Kasper Schmeichel and Denmark ride their luck to secure vital World Cup win against Peru
Denmark 1 Peru 0
Yussuf Poulsen fired the Danish winner as they rode their luck against a dynamic Peru side in Saransk.
A penalty miss from Peru’s Christian Cueva on the stroke of half-time proved to be a turning point in a match domianted by the South American side for long periods.
The Danish side that ended the Republic of Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup with a play-off victory last November needed some smart saves from keeper Kasper Schmeichel and desperate defending at times, but they navigated a route to victory with a 59th minute winner.
Inevitably, it was Danish talisman Christian Eriksen who carved open the chance that led to victory, as he led a swift Danish breakaway before feeding Poulsen, who kept his cool to fire a clinical finish with the goal at his mercy.
The joy at the final whistle for Denmark was contrasted with the agony for Peru and especially Cueva, who was consoled by team-mates on the pitch both at half-time and at the end of the game.
Cueva did so well to win the penalty as he drew a foul from eventual Danish hero Poulsen, with the Gambian referee consulting the VAR technology before awarding Peru a penalty.
Cueva stepped up confidently to strike the spot kick, but he blazed his effort over the bar with Schmeichel already diving in the wrong direction.
The scenes at half-time may have divided a few opinions with Peru players surrounding a tearing Cueva after his nightmare penalty miss, in an outpouring of affection that appeared to deepen the misery for the Peru No.8.
With a huge Peruvian crowd inside the stadium cheering on their side in the hope of a second half fightback, they peppered the Danish goal with a succession of shots that forced saves out of Schmeichel.
The final statistics confirmed that Peru had a total of 17 efforts on goal and missed some clear-cut chances to at least salvage a draw from this game, with the speedy Andre Carrillo and Jefferson Farfan troubling the Danish defence.
Peru were denied an immediate equaliser when Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel produced a fantastic one-handed save to deny Edison Flores.
Substitute Paolo Guerrero, only able to play after a Swiss tribunal lifted a 14-month drugs ban, backheeled a chance wide as Denmark wobbled in the final stages.
Yet Schmiechel somehow kept a clean sheet that meant he has not conceded a goal in Danish colours for an increasingly impressive 534 minutes.
The win allowed an unconvincing Denmark side to join France at the top of Group C, with their second match against Australia coming up next Thursday.