Sunday 17 June 2018, 07:52

Eriksen: We certainly weren’t at our best

  • Denmark off to positive, but unconvincing, start

  • ​Christian Eriksen reflects on three points to forget

  • Age Hareide assesses shortfalls in 1-0 win over Peru

By Svend Frandsen with Denmark

Denmark’s opening three points at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia were hard-fought and very unconvincing. Against a highly-spirited and creative Peruvian outfit, it was a performance unlike those which have occasionally earned the Danes the nickname “Brazilians of Scandinavia”.

When the Danes reached the Round of 16 in 1986 and the quarter-finals in the 1998 World Cups it was thanks to a stylish approach reminiscent of Tele Santana's Brazil and Rinus Michel's Netherlands side which instantly captivated the hearts of football experts and fans across the world.

Tomasson: Matches are often decided after 60 minutes Saturday's performance in Saransk, however, certainly did not set the World Cup alight. There was no steady touches of brilliance in Laudrupesque fashion. But, much to the credit of coach Age Hareide, there was a determination amongst the Danes to hang in there even though they at times were barely surviving a Peruvian siege. And if there is a lesson which Ricardo Gareca's side forgot it is that you can never leave Christian Eriksen a moment's peace.

Before the match, Danish assistant coach Jon Dahl Tomasson said that most games are decided after 60 minutes. That prediction came to pass. When the frustrated South Americans suddenly lost possession on 59 minutes, with most of their men committed forward, Eriksen was for once left with acres of space. The Tottenham Hotspur playmaker was quick to feed Yussuf Poulsen, who slotted the ball past the despairing Peruvian keeper.

With victory secured, Eriksen admitted to that this was not a game to be remembered. “The three points was the only thing we had calculated with tonight. We certainly weren’t at our best. Peru were well organised and they made it hard for us. But it is not always necessary to play amazing football to win. You don't get many chances at a World Cup and it was nice to see that we can actually also win even though it wasn’t great to look at.”

An expensive triumph? A big factor in the unsteady Danish performance was undoubtedly having William Kvist stretchered off after 30 minutes following a rib injury. Replacing him, Lasse Schone immediately lost confidence with two bad touches after coming on. Having seen that destabilise the Danish midfield, Hareide will now also be concerned that Kvist’s most obvious replacement, Andreas Christensen, also sustained a minor injury towards the end of the match. At the final whistle Hareide couldn't say anything further about the injuries but elaborated on the performance instead.

“We were only able to contain them fairly sporadically throughout the match. We often lost the ball, we lost the duels and we really struggled to put great attacking moves together,” said Hareide, having joined his opposite numbers for a quick post-match conversation. “It was very nice, we exchanged shirts and had a chance to chat a little. They were obviously very disappointed and you can´t blame them but that is football sometimes.”