In the third of the four games on this Saturday afternoon, Peru took on Denmark in the sunny town of Saransk. For Peru, it was their first return to the World Cup stage in 36 years, yet they showed no signs of rust, quickly going on the front foot against a sleepy Danish team. The first 20 minutes were dominated by a tricky Peru team lead by Jefferson Farfan, but the Danes slowly grew into the match. A 38th minute set piece was sent into the wall by Christian Eriksen, but Lasse Schone sent a viscous volley off the ground into the hands of Pedro Gallese. A VAR-awarded penalty – the second of the day, and the second in World Cup history – was blasted well over the crossbar by Cristian Cuevas in the 45th minute, and the game went into the half scoreless. However, the second half started to get feisty as play began to open up. Denmark ended up taking the lead through RB Leipzig’s Yussuf Yurary Poulsen’s goal, which came off a clinical counterattack. While Denmark can be pleased with the three points, Peruvians can come back resilient for their next two matches.
Denmark on the Counter
Denmark did not muster too many chances in this game, having just three shots on target, but the Danes must believe that they have figured a good strategy for their next two games. Denmark was able to utilize the creativity of Eriksen on the counter, using his close control and vision to feed the pace of Pione Sisto and Poulsen on the wings. That play, along with Nicolai Jorgensen’s excellent physicality, was what led to the goal, and will likely be the formula for Denmark when they are forced to cede the majority of possession to France. Head coach Åge Hareide could elect to play the rapid Kasper Dolberg up top to try and stretch the play. Furthermore, Denmark are still awaiting word on the injury to WIlliam Kvist, who took a heavy knee to the ribs in the first half and had to be stretchered off; however, Ajax’s Lasse Schöne was able to deputize in his place.
Peru-ving a Point
Peru created a number of chances, with 17 total shots, but the South Americans’ best opportunity came from a VAR-awarded penalty. However, with a chance to give Peru their first World Cup lead in almost four decades, Cuevas put the ball into orbit. Peru had other opportunities that could have been capitalized upon, but the impressive keeping of Kasper Schmeichel kept the Peruvians at bay. If Peru want to have any chance of making it through to the next round, they need to be much more clinical. A number of long shots fizzled close, but none were able to leave their mark.