Schmeichel heroic as Denmark edge Peru
Yussuf Poulsen (Getty Images)
Mordovia - Kasper Schmeichel's slew of saves made Yussuf Poulsen's opportunistic second-half goal stand up in a 1-0 victory over Peru on Saturday at the World Cup.
Poulsen squeezed his goal between charging Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese and the left post in the 59th minute after collecting a pass from midfielder Christian Eriksen.
The victory gave Denmark a crucial advantage in Group C, in which France defeated Australia 2-1 earlier in the day.
Appearing at the World Cup for the first time in 36 years, Peru had overwhelming fan support in the Mordovia Arena and the bulk of scoring chances, including a late first-half penalty shot that Christian Cueva sent sailing over the crossbar.
The penalty was awarded after Gambian referee Bakary Gassama used the video assistant referee system to decide Poulsen had tripped Cueva in the penalty area.
Peru striker Paolo Guerrero made his much anticipated appearance as a substitute with about 30 minutes to go and had two scoring chances, one on a header and one on a clever back-heel that rolled just wide.
Peru finished with 17 attempts to Denmark's 10, and many of the team's shots were of the point-blank variety, forcing Schmeichel to dive or extend whatever limb he could in the ball's path.
The lone scorer also helped out on the defensive end with a clearing header in the box on a cross over Schmeichel's head. That helped the keeper recover and leap to grab the ball as it came down with Peru players nearby looking to pounce.
Later, Schmeichel's kick save denied Jefferson Farfan's 83rd-minute, hard drive from near the top of the penalty area.
Schmeichel was also fortunate, and not only on Cueva's missed penalty kick. In the 56th minute, Edison Flores was wrong-footed by Andre Carrillo's tap-pass on the right side of the goal and he rolled a weak shot wide of a largely open net.
Minutes later, Schmeichel extended his left hand to stop Flores' sizzling shot.
Within the opening minutes of the match, Peru were pushing forward and nearly drew a penalty when Flores and Poulsen collided on the left side of the area, but Gassama waved play on. Gassama, however, used VAR to award a penalty after Cueva was tripped in the area by Poulsen.
The first shot on goal came in the eighth minute, when Peru's Yoshimar Yotun sent one from outside the penalty area into the chest of Schmeichel.
Peru nearly broke through in the 13th minute when Carrillo executed a step-over dribble to cut to his left on the edge of the penalty area and unleash a low, hard left-footer. Schmeichel dove to his right to bat the ball away.
Denmark left back Andreas Christensen thwarted two more Peru threats before 20 minutes had elapsed, first with his well-timed slide tackle on Luis Advincula on the right edge of the area, and minutes later with a quick-reaction swing of his left foot to deflect Carrillo's low shot toward the right post.
Again, Carrillo threatened in the 29th minute, but his hard, low shot was deflected wide by Simon Kjaer.
The so-called Danish Dynamite had the better of possession but fewer scoring threats. Denmark did not get its first shot on goal until the 39th minute, when Eriksen drove a direct kick into a wall of defenders, and Lasse Schonne volleyed the rebound right at Gallese.
Schonne's shot came within five minutes of his entrance into the game for Williams Kvist, who came off after a hard collision with a leaping Farfan as the two pursued a ball in the air.