Huge shock as Kazakhstan fight back to beat Denmark in thrilling Euro 2024 qualifier
Kazakhstan’s last victory in a competitive fixture against a team in the world’s top 100 came almost four years ago to the day: a 3-0 defeat of Scotland on 21 March 2019.
Two further victories, both against lowly San Marino, gave Kazakhstan three victories overall in that Euros campaign, but they still finished second to last, and their 2022 World Cup efforts were equally as disappointing: five losses and three draws saw them finish bottom of the group.
Still, there was evidence in that campaign – away draws in Ukraine and Bosnia & Herzegovina – that Denmark should not be taking their fixture in Almaty today lightly.
In a shock defeat that ranks alongside their 0-4 loss to Armenia in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, Denmark have this afternoon squandered a 2-0 half-time lead to lose 2-3 to the Central Asian underdogs.
Echoes of corona: Seen off by Abat
Two goals courtesy of Thursday’s hat-trick hero Rasmus Højlund – the first a beautiful chip after a long pass by captain Simon Kjær – had given Denmark a solid position at half-time. It was a deserved lead based on the balance of play.
But Kazakhstan shifted a gear in the second hand, increasingly threatening Kasper Schmeichel’s goal. Still, a goal never looked likely despite Denmark giving the ball away cheaply every time they had possession.
Jonas Wind didn’t know much about the 73rd minute corner that crashed against his raised arm to hand Kazakhstan a lifeline penalty, which they duly dispatched, and then an absolute screamer from Ashak Tagybergen, giving Schmeichel no chance, brought the home team level with five minutes to go.
The Danish defence should have dealt with the cross that gave an unmarked Abat Aimbetov unlimited freedom to score a winning header in the 89th minute. A second yellow earned the striker a red card, but he watched from the sidelines as a limp Denmark failed to seriously threaten, handing Kazakstan one of their finest ever victories.