74 min: With Denmark now in kitchen-sink-throwing mode, Australia make a defensive change. McGree makes way for the more tactically conservative Wright.
73 min: Another cross into the Australian box from the left. Skov attacks the ball but shoves Rowles and the whistle goes.
71 min: The referee blows for a penalty as Eriksen swings in from the left, and Souttar bundles Dolberg to the ground under the high ball. But then the flag goes up for offside! Dolberg was indeed off, and Denmark’s emotions swing from elation and excitement to impotent anger and despair.
70 min: Denmark have been toothless. They make another double change to shake things up. On come Cornelius and Skov for Maehle and Skov Olsen.
69 min: Another Danish corner, this time from the left. Eriksen rakes it long. Andersen heads harmlessly wide right.
67 min: “Matthew Leckie’s nickname must be Bill,” quips Sean Boiling, and he’s on a roll. “Such power. Such energy. Will Denmark pay the price?” Meanwhile Behich flicks a switch and suddenly turns into Garrincha, dancing down the left wing and then along the byline. It’s a sensational dribble, but he runs out of road as he tries to force home from the left-hand corner of the six-yard box. Goal kick.
65 min: Denmark try to respond, winning a corner down the right. Eriksen’s delivery is floated in, and easily cleared by Irvine. Australia have been marvellous since the start of the second half. Since the final few minutes of the first half, in fact.
63 min: Australian tails are up, and now Leckie pops up on the right wing, nearly found by a raking diagonal from Irvine. Not quite. Denmark, one of the pre-tournament hipster-choice dark horses, have to dig super deep now.
61 min: Australia go wild, and no wonder! As things stand, they’ll make it through to the knockout stage for only the second time in their history!
GOAL! Australia 1-0 Denmark (Leckie 60)
Denmark press forward. But Australia intercept and break upfield! McGree sends a pass down the inside-left channel for Leckie, who is in acres, bursting a gut from the halfway line. Leckie twists Maehle this way and that, before threading a wonderful shot across Schmeichel and into the bottom right!
59 min: Denmark swap out Braithwaite and Jensen for Dolberg and Damsgaard.
58 min: Nothing comes of the free kick … but in the other game, Tunisia have taken the lead against France! As things stand, it’s Tunisia who are going through!
57 min: The ever-busy Lndstrom diddles Degenek by the left-hand corner flag and is hauled back cynically. Degenek goes into the book. Free kick just to the left of the Aussie box.
56 min: Denmark have made 351 passes to Australia’s 146. But look at the score. “Pennants!” exclaims our picture guru Paul Bellsham. “Iran’s is quite special.” He’s not wrong, is he, dear reader. That is a beauty. Thankfully, our Pennant-o-meter™ goes up to 11.
54 min: Lindstrom cuts infield but slips as he prepares to shoot. Denmark are getting back on top. They need the win, too, and might need more than one goal depending on what Tunisia get up to.
52 min: Rowles takes a Skov Olsen shot full in the mush. Standing brave. That will have hurt, but he’s OK to continue.
50 min: Denmark slow Australia’s gallop a little with some sterile possession, looking to re-establish some of their early control.
48 min: Leckie crosses low from the left. Irvine takes a first-time swing at the ball and sends it sailing over the crossbar. Am guessing Australia have been told Tunisia look capable of beating France, and are going for the win that would render that immaterial.
47 min: From the corner, Behich has a dig from the edge of the box. His effort looks to be heading wide, but is deflected out for another corner. Andersen clears Mooy’s delivery, but that’s a confident start to the second period by Australia.
Glad I got that done just in time for the second half. Australia get the ball rolling again, having replaced Goodwin with Baccus, and win their first corner of the afternoon in short order. Denmark meanwhile have swapped out Kristensen for Bah.
Half-time entertainment … and it’s the return of PENNANT WATCH! As requested by hundreds of readers! OK, one. “I can’t see any pennants,” writes Joe Balfour. “I heard Denmark had a real cracker, yet I haven’t seen it. Do I have to start a petition?” I’m afraid you’ve been sorely misinformed, Joe. This is garden variety at best …
… and the things Australia have been handing out aren’t anything to write about either.
Compare and contrast to the effort France have put in. That’s why they’re champions, I guess.
Group C, then. Here’s Will Unwin’s take on the first half of Tunisia v France …
Tunisia have been the better team by a mile, while France have played some ludicrously low-quality and disjointed stuff. If there is any justice, Tunisia will win this match.
… and a reminder that, should Tunisia beat the French B team, Australia will need to win to pip them. A draw no good in that scenario. Denmark would also need to win – they have to, regardless – and register a better goal difference than the Tunisians. This is how the table looks as things stand.
HALF TIME: Australia 0-0 Denmark
It’s goalless at half-time in the other match, too, so as things stand, Australia are going through to the last 16 and Denmark are going home.
45 min +1: The first of two added minutes. Skov Olsen handles the ball, then slides through the back of Duke. He’s extremely fortunate not to go into the book for that saucy one-two.
45 min: Degenek with another long throw from the right. Leckie battles for the ball on the right-hand corner of the six-yard box and loops high into the middle. Schmeichel wants to claim but is forced to punch clear.
44 min: Degenek flings a long throw into the mixer. Denmark deal with it. Australia have grown into this game, though, and after a slow start are now showing in attack.
42 min: Lindstrom earns a couple of yards down the left and looks low for Braithwaite in the middle. His cross is too close to Ryan, who claims ahead of the Danish striker. A more measured pass and Braithwaite was poking home.
41 min: Duke strides confidently down the inside-left channel and tries to beat Schmeichel from long range. Nope. An easy gather.
39 min: Maehle attempts to clear but only succeeds in blootering the ball straight into McGree’s startled grid. The ball rebounds down the right wing, allowing McGree to chase after it and tear clear. Denmark and Maehle are very fortunate that McGree’s cross can’t beat first man Christensen. That could have been a goal for the slapstick scrapbook.
38 min: Another free kick for Denmark in Australian territory, another chance for Eriksen to wave his wand. He curls long into the Aussie box. Irvine deals with it easily and clears. For all Denmark’s dominance, they haven’t forced Ryan into too much work since those early shots.