Denmark held by bullish Bulgarians
Denmark’s 2014 World Cup hopes hit a snag tonight after they only managed a 1-1 draw against Bulgaria in Parken Stadium, Copenhagen.
A second-half strike by midfielder Stanislav Manolev was cancelled out ten minutes later by a Daniel Agger penalty and Denmark is now under pressure to get points in the remainder of their five qualification games.
“We are not satisfied and we should have won this game in the first half,” Coach Morten Olsen told TV2. “We have the chances, especially in the first half but we don’t capitalise and the second half becomes a messy affair.”
The game started at a slow pace with Denmark having most of the possession while Bulgaria clearly were relying on the counter.
Andreas Cornelius, one of the heroes in Olomouc last Friday, had a shot blocked early on and Denmark then though they had opened the scoring after 20 minutes when Nicolai Stockholm looked to have bundled it across the line, but the Bulgarian keeper Nikolay Mihaylov somehow managed to keep it out.
Dennis Rommedahl blasted over from a good position before Christian Eriksen missed an open shot after sloppy Bulgarian defence.
The second half was a more open affair with Denmark continuing to have the lion’s share of possession. But the Bulgarian’s were constantly looking dangerous on the break and Manolev took full advantage of a solid counter to slot home a good cross from the left.
Ten minutes later Cornelius was brought down in the box in a situation where he looked to have used his hand to control the ball and the Bulgarians protested profusely to the referee.
But their complaints fell on deaf ears and captain Agger stepped up and put Denmark on level terms again with half an hour to go.
Coach Morten Olsen put on Simon Makienok to add some more aerial firepower with bout ten minutes to go, but despite a few chances the Bulgarian defence would not waver once more and the match finished a draw, 1-1.
“It wasn’t good enough. We needed more today and we should have gotten more,” Daniel Agger told TV2 after the match. ”We let them score an easy goal. We could have maintained a 1-0 lead, which was what we aimed for.”
Denmark is on six points with the draw, four points behind the Bulgarians in second, but with a game in hand. Olsen’s boys now have a tough road to traverse if they want to make it to Brazil next year, and they will most likely need to win four of their last five games against Malta and Armenia – both twice – and perhaps even earn a point against Italy in October.
It the two other games tonight, Czech Republic beat Armenia 3-0, while Italy overcame Malta 2-0.
Denmark’s next match is on June 11 when they host Armenia in Copenhagen.