Live Commentary: Denmark 2-2 Italy - as it happened
Sports Mole's text coverage of Denmark's topsy-turvy World Cup qualifier against Italy, which ended 2-2 thanks to a stoppage-time equaliser.
By Liam Power, Reporter Filed: Friday, October 11, 2013 at 18:45 UK
Last Updated: Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 09:31 UK
Denmark hosted Italy tonight in a crucial World Cup qualifier at the Parken Stadion, knowing that only three points would keep their chances of a playoff place in their own hands.
Italy already had their spot in next summer's finals secured but took the lead early on regardless, thanks to a clinical finish from Pablo Osvaldo.
Morten Olsen's side were soon back in the match thanks to a header from Nicklas Bendtner, who made his return to the international stage in style by doubling his tally late on to put the Danes ahead.
There was still time for more drama though as Italy snatched a last-gasp draw, courtesy of a flick from substitute Alberto Aquilani.
Look back at a pulsating qualifier from Copenhagen with Sports Mole's minute-by-minute text commentary below.
6.47pmHello European football fans. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for comprehensive coverage on a packed night of World Cup qualifiers, as European sides scramble for a place in next summer's South American showpiece. Our focus here is on a crucial Group B clash between Denmark and Italy in Copenhagen.
6.50pmItaly are something of a rarity on the continent tonight, with World Cup qualification secured thanks to an unbeaten campaign. Cesare Prandelli's side have been largely below par in Group B but always functional and efficient, grinding out the right result when required.
6.53pmPrandelli's side secured top spot in Group B with a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic last month, coming from behind to claim a decisive victory thanks to a strike from Mario Balotelli. The Azzurri are struggling with injury ahead of tonight's clash though, which means Italy could well use the trip to Copenhagen as a chance to experiment with personnel.
6.56pmFor Denmark tonight is likely to prove pivotal, with Group B so close behind Italy in the battle for second place. Bulgaria currently sit second with 13 points, with Denmark a point behind. Armenia managed to beat Bulgaria 2-1 earlier today and are now also on 12 points, while the Czech Republic will become the third team with 12 points if they beat Malta tonight.
6.58pmThat playoff headache all means that any positive result for the Danes this evening will give them a huge advantage going into the final round of matches. To say that Morten Olsen's side have been inconsistent during qualifying would be an understatement, with two wins in row but no victories at home in four attempts.
7.01pmOlsen has a number of selection dilemmas tonight, most notably with the prodigal son of Danish football Nicklas Bendtner. Arsenal's forgotten man is in the squad for the first time in six months, after being banished following a drink-drive arrest earlier this year. Bendtner could well start tonight though and what a chance to respond, against a significant group of his former colleagues from Juventus.
7.03pmItaly's team selection is due imminently and promises to be very interesting. Prandelli has the luxury of rotating and is likely to give different players a chance in attack this evening, with Giuseppe Rossi among those considered after battling back from injury problems to find form with Fiorentina in Serie A.
7.05pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS! We have just received the starting XIs from the Parken Stadion, with Southampton striker Pablo Osvaldo leading the line for Italy. A full look at both lineups will follow in just a few moments.
7.10pmA number of surprise inclusions for the Azzurri then, with former Roma teammates Osvaldo and Federico Balzaretti both handed a chance to impress from the start. Alessandro Diamanti and Antonio Candreva will provide support for Osvaldo, with Claudio Marchisio also back in central midfield.
7.12pmDenmark meanwhile have turned to Bendtner, but with Daniel Agger their top scorer that is hardly surprising. Christian Eriksen will be the focal point for the hosts on a vital night, relied upon for creative impetus at the tender age of 21.
7.14pmPREDICTION! With the Danish national anthem belting out as I type there is just time to predict that Italy's under-strength side may fall to their first defeat of the campaign. I'm going to plump for a 2-1 win for the Danes against the odds, with Bendtner to mark his return with a goal, if only to prompt a change in hairstyle!
0 minWe are off in Copenhagen, with Denmark getting this vital clash underway shooting from left to right.
2 minItaly have quickly establish possession deep in their own half, to a chorus of loud jeers from the home crowd, who seem really fired up for this one.
4 minThe Danes threaten for the first time as Bjelland drives down the wing to overlap, but his chipped cross is confidently claimed by Buffon. The veteran keeper has touched the ball for the first time on a record-breaking night, passing Fabio Cannavaro as the Azzurri's all-time record appearance holder.
7 minA threatening run down the left from Krohn-Dehli for Denmark, who drifts a low effort well beyond the far post than initially looked to be a misplaced cross. Italy attempt to clear quickly in search of Diamanti, who fails to control a long pass under pressure from Agger.
10 minItaly look happy to keep the ball deep in their own half and after 10 well-placed passes Montolivo eventually picks Osvaldo to perfection. Osvaldo is driven wide but finds Diamati with a precise cutback, only for Agger to block a strike at goal with an important block.
13 minThis time Denmark look happy to just bide their time in the ball, perhaps regrouping after nearly being exposed at the bar. Jacobsen is the first player to advance in possession but is robbed by Balzaretti, with a forward move quickly broken down by the in-form defender.
16 minAgger is over-zealous in a challenge on Diamati just beyond the halfway line, sliding into a challenge off-balance without winning the ball. Just a sense of frustration from the hosts here, as Bendtner quickly concedes another cheap foul by colliding with Osvaldo.
19 minBendtner controls a flick over the top but is quickly shut down by Chiellini, who concedes a corner kick with a strong block. The former Juve teammates then clash from the following corner, but share a laugh as Italy clear their lines at the near post.
22 minCHANCE! Italy get some space in the penalty area for the first time tonight as Candreva escapes out wide, driving into the box before cutting back in search of Osvaldo. His cross is read by Andersen though, who comes off his line to punch clear.
25 minMotta is very fortunate to escape without a yellow card after cynically blocking off Eriksen as he drove forward. Denmark have to settle for a free kick around 30 yards from goal, which Buffon allows to drift harmlessly beyond his far post.
28 minDenmark look threatening from set pieces and win another corner kick, but are penalised after Bendtner tangled with both Buffon and Chiellini inside the penalty area. A niggly game so far, with neither side able to settle in possession.
29 minA classic Italian counter attack has just broken the deadlock, with the Azzurri ahead through Osvaldo. The Southampton striker did brilliantly to control a lofted through ball over the top. His first touch and shift left Agger trailing, with a measured finish finding the far corner from a tight angle. What a moment for Osvaldo, his fourth international goal!
32 minWith Diamanti down clutching his ankle there is just time for me to praise Motta for his part in that opening goal, picking out Osvaldo with a superb chip over the top. At times a direct passing style gains criticism, but with execution like that it is no wonder than Italy are set up to counter.
35 minDenmark are quickly back in possession and probing but with little end product, as Bendtner comes deep to receive the ball only to be shut down by Montolivo. Boilssen then gets free down the left and crosses into the penalty area, but fails to find a teammate as Balzaretti hooks behind for a corner kick.
38 minEriksen is looking to get on the ball for Denmark as he spins away from his marker into the final third, but a pass forward from from Zimling lets him down. Olsen looks pensive on the touchline and so he should be, with qualification hopes now hanging by a thread.
40 minDiamanti gets involved again as he finds space between the lines, with a scoop forward in search of Osvaldo only finding Agger's head.
43 minCandreva just mistimes his run over the top to be flagged offside, but worryingly for the Danes had at least 30 yards of space to run into there if the ball was played forward quicker. At the other end Krohn-Dehli then robs possession and turns inside Chiellini, but is crowded out by covering defenders.
45 minRight on the stroke of half-time Denmark are level through Bendtner, who climbs highest at the far post to head home. The forward got terrific spring on his jump to beat his marker and meet Krohn-Dehli's cross, before heading low to squeeze his effort past Buffon!
8.07pmWell that was quite a first half in Copenhagen, with Denmark struggling to create as Osvaldo's ruthless finish on the counter put Italy ahead. The visitors responded positively though and equalised just before the break, with Bendtner announcing his return to international football with a vital goal.
8.10pmIn truth the Danes probably deserve parity, after probing without finding a killer pass for large parts of the first period. Italy have looked dangerous every time they have attacked in numbers, with Diamati, Candreva and Osvaldo all showing flashes of quality in the final third.
8.13pmThe pressure is definitely on Denmark to push for a winner this evening, with a point only good enough to leave them level on Bulgaria in the fight for second place. Italy will probably look to soak up that pressure and break on the counter, with Candreva's pace and Osvaldo's strength the perfect outlets for such a strategy.
8.15pmBoth sides are back out at the Parken, with Italy having plenty of options at their disposal from the bench if the game remains deadlocked. Expect Giuseppe Rossi to get his first international action of the season at some point this evening, while Emanuele Giaccherini and Alberto Gilardino are also possible options.
45 minBack underway in Copehagen, with Italy restarting before pumping a hopeful diagonal pass through to Andersen instead of Candreva.
47 minSUBSTITUTION: Just a change at the break to report for Denmark, who have swapped Braithwaite for Emil Larsen. That is pretty for much a like-for-like move by Olsen, as he bids to produce a winning performance in the second half.
50 minOsvaldo has just had a strong penalty claim turned down by the referee, after clearly having his shirt pulled by Boilesen. The forward was attempting to meet Diamanti's chipped cross in the six-yard box, but despite being hauled down is not awarded a spot kick. A let-off there for the Danes!
53 minCHANCE! Italy have just gone within inches of a second through Diamanti after another sweeping counter. The playmaker received a pass from Montolivo but his touch to cut inside was just a touch heavy, forcing him to slide to send a deflected strike just beyond the near post. Another warning sign for the Danes, who are pressing high and taking chances at times.
56 minOFF THE POST! Denmark win a dangerous free kick just outside the area thanks to the substitute Larsen, who drew a clumsy challenge from Chiellini. Eriksen lines up the set piece and from around 20 yards curls a superb effort towards goal, leaving Buffon for dead only for the clever strike to come back off the far post. Agonisingly close for the Spurs playmaker.
59 minBack come Italy as slick play from Montolivo and Candreva release Marchisio, who has evaded the entire Danish midfield with a late run into the box. With the goal at his mercy the Juve man is normally so clinical but not on this occasion, scuffing a tame effort through to a grateful Andersen.
62 minBendtner and Chiellini continue their terrific tussle as Denmark win consecutive corner kicks. On both occasions the delivery is below par through, with Osvaldo retreating to help Italy clear their lines effectively at the second time of asking.
65 minYELLOW CARD! Denmark are just starting to build momentum as they win another kick thanks to Eriksen's invention, with Candreva forced to turn behind as he covers the far post. Once again Italy clear quickly and press forward on the counter through Diamanti, who draws a rash foul from Bjelland which sees the full-back cautioned.
68 minOFF THE BAR! Bendtner looks to be growing in confidence, if that is even possible, as his driving run into the penalty area wins a corner kick. At long last the following corner leads to a home strike in the penalty area, with Bjelland's drive coming back off the crossbar. His effort hits Osvaldo on the line as it ricochets out, with Buffon scrambling to prevent anyone following up on the rebound. Just inches away for Denmark, who have now hit the woodwork twice.
70 minSUBSTITUTION: Italy have made a change designed to help them keep possession in central midfield, with Alberto Aquilani on for Marchisio. Still plenty of time for either side to take control and force a late winner, but Denmark definitely look more likely.
73 minThe hosts are now laying siege to the Italian penalty area as three successive shots are blocked by Azzurri defenders, who are putting their bodies on the line to stay level.
75 minBoilesen's rather hopeful penalty appeals are turned away following a tussle with Balzaretti, as Aquilani clears to give the Danes yet another corner kick. This time Italy are just about alert to the danger, with Eriksen shut down as he attempts to pick up the pieces out wide.
78 minSUBSTITUTION: Italy make another change and almost instantly it results in a second goal the visitors. Alessio Cerci comes on for Diamati and uses his pace and fresh legs to bring Italy forward, with Aquilani forcing Andersen to parry a low strike wide from 20 yards.
80 minDenmark lead and in truth that goal has been coming, with Bendtner the man to force a breakthrough with his second of the night. Once again the Arsenal striker used his aerial presence in the penalty area, sending a glancing header beyond Buffon and just inside the far corner. What a response from Bendtner in his first international appearance for six months!
83 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Italy have little time to respond but can call on an experienced striker with the final change, swapping Montolivo for Alberto Gilardino. Denmark also use the latter stages to bring off the two-goal hero Bendtner for Bille Makienok.
86 minDenmark nearly pay the price for almost instantly attempting to shut up shop, with Candreva's clever cross into the far post just evading Gilardino's late run by fractions.
89 minChiellini is penalised for pushing Larsen off the ball as he roams forward in desperation. Italy have let an early lead slip and are now just stoppage time away from their first defeat of the qualifying campaign, of which there will be three minutes.
90 min+1Danish hearts are broken in stoppage time as Aquilani's deflection from close range levels the scores. The midfielder was well placed after Osvaldo has cut inside and dinked a low effort towards the far post, sticking out a leg to turn home from four yards.
9.09pmWell that was quite a clash in Copenhagen, with Italy managing to salvage a point in stoppage time. Denmark were within moments of a huge victory thanks to a brace of header from Bendtner, but thanks to Aquilani's late equaliser must now wait anxiously for the final round of qualifiers to learn their fate.
9.12pmDenmark must now beat Malta on Tuesday and hope that Bulgaria drop points against the Czech Republic in their final qualifier. Italy meanwhile will hope to round off a near-perfect campaign next week, when they host Armenia in Naples.
9.15pmThat just about does it for Sports Mole's live coverage from Copenhagen. Thanks for joining us and be sure to stick with Sports Mole for comprehensive news and reaction on a busy night of World Cup qualifiers across the continent. Goodnight!