Australia picked up their first point of their World Cup campaign after cancelling out Denmark’s opener to secure a 1-1 draw following the intervention of VAR, leaving the race for qualification from Group C wide open.
The afternoon started on the right note for Denmark after Christian Eriksen opened the scoring in fine fashion after unleashing an unstoppable strike, before Mile Jedinak levelled the scores after comfortably tucking away a penalty following another questionable intervention from VAR.
The Group C encounter in Samara saw two teams with contrasting results in their respective opening game come to blows, with an unchanged Australian lineup coming off the back of a defeat to France, and Denmark buoyed by their slim victory over Peru.
With World Cup dreams on the line Australia had barely taken sight of their attacking half before their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stage had been dealt a blow, as the Danes capitalised on their strong start.
After struggling against their South American opponents last time out, Denmark quickly sought to take a strangle hold on proceedings, and they needn’t wait long for their early dominance to be reflected on the scoreboard – seven minutes in fact.
With the Aussies failing to clear their lines after a bout of pressure from the Danes, an opening into the centre of the box emerged and an exquisite piece of hold up play and reverse ball from Nicolai Jørgensen saw the ball fall to Eriksen who sweetly struck home on the half volley.
After Denmark failed to double their lead through a misguided Jørgensen header Australia started to discover some rhythm of their own midway through the opening term, with their hard work to create scoring chances undone by rash decision making in the box.
Their continued attempts to pump the ball into the box, however, paid dividends as a penalty was awarded after Yussuf Poulsen was deemed to have raised his hand to deflect Mathew Leckie’s header from close range after the referee consulted with VAR.
Despite Kasper Schmeichel’s best attempts to put off the Aussie skipper, Jedinak calmly stepped up to the plate and slotted home his second spot kick of the tournament to level the scores on the cusp of half time.
The interval did little to change the tempo and attacking intent from both sides as each went in search of the winner, and whilst possession continually changed hands Denmark appeared to be the struggling party despite their initial bright start to the game.
Australia meanwhile appeared to be making inroads in notching their second of the afternoon as Schmeichel’s credentials came under increasing scrutiny – with efforts from Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic and Leckie ensuring the Leicester man was without a moment of peace.
For all of the Aussies’ effort, however, a lack of a clear out and out striker proved costly in their search for the winning goal as they failed to capitalise on Denmark firing blanks for much of the second 45.
The draw ensures the final standings in Group C remain in the balance ahead of matchday three, where the Socceroos will face Peru and Denmark will clash with France.