Full time: Denmark 2-0 Wales
Peep peep! Wales have received an intravenous injection of reality after that stirring win over the Republic of Ireland on Thursday. They played well enough for the most part, but Denmark had a bit more nous and class at both ends. And they had Christian Eriksen, who scored both goals and was the best player on the field. Thanks for your company, bye!
90+4 min Almost a hat-trick for Eriksen! He curled a superb free-kick towards the top corner, and Hennessey leapt to palm it over.
90+3 min Joe Allen is justly booked for a nasty hack at the very impressive Braithwaite.
90+3 min Gareth Bale slams a good long-range shot just over the bar. I think Schmeichel had it covered; or, at least, I think he thought had it covered. It dipped quite sharply and could have embarrassed him.
90 min Kasper Schmeichel is booked for timewasting. In the 90th minute. With his side 2-0 up. In a Nations League match.
88 min Here’s Charles Antaki. “I suppose this means than now Wales can concentrate on the … erm…”
86 min A Denmark change: Yussuf Poulsen is replaced by Andreas Cornelius.
84 min A Denmark corner breaks for Delaney, whose fierce snapshot is excellently saved by Hennessey. Wales break through Bale, whose cross is headed towards goal by Ramsey. Schmeichel makes an easy save.
81 min Bale’s deflected shot spins towards goal and is flapped behind acrobatically by Schmeichel. I think it was going wide anyway.
80 min Wales make their final change, with Ben Woodburn replacing Tom Lawrence.
79 min Poulsen’s cross lands unexpectedly at the feet of Braithwaite, who sidefoots an early shot this far wide of the post. Hennessey didn’t move.
78 min There is one good thing about the Nations League: because the matches are competitive (sic), each side can only make three substitutions.
76 min Ben Davies is booked for a late tackle on Kjaer.
75 min Wales look like a team who have reluctantly accepted defeat. I won’t insult you by telling you what this result would mean for their Nations League hopes.
72 min Ethan Ampadu, who has had a good game despite giving away the penalty, is replaced by Tyler Roberts.
71 min Another chance for Denmark, with Fischer’s cross shot on the turn bobbling right across the face of goal.
70 min Brooks scoots down the left and cuts the ball back towards Bale. He stabs it up towards Allen, who slaps a volley over the bar from 18 yards.
67 min That goal, and especially the manner of it, has deflated a Wales team that started the second half really well. If they’re not careful this could get messy. Eriksen, given far too much space against, drags a deflected shot wide of the far post.
64 min I can see both sides of that penalty appeal. Ampadu jumped to block Fischer’s cross and was hit on the hand. He will say it wasn’t deliberate; Denmark will say his arm was away from his body.
GOAL! Denmark 2-0 Wales (Eriksen 63 pen)
Eriksen gets his second goal, smashing the penalty to the right of centre as Hennessey went the other way.
PENALTY TO DENMARK!
62 min This looks a bit soft. Ampadu is penalised for handball from Fischer’s cross.
60 min Wales make their first change, with David Brooks replacing Connor Roberts on the right wing.
59 min Braithwaite nicks the ball off Mepham in the Wales area, wriggles away from two defenders and drags a shot into the side-netting. That was a good effort.
58 min Delaney drives an angled pass to Poulsen, whose looping header is comfortably saved by Hennessey.
57 min Wales have been better in the second half, playing at a much greater pace. A pace fit for a game of this importance.
55 min Ryan Giggs is getting annoyed with the number of niggly, playbreaking fouls from Denmark.
53 min Kjaer does continue. I’m not sure whether he’d had a concussion check.
51 min Bale’s free-kick hits the wall - specifically Kjaer, who has gone down in a heap. The replays didn’t look great, as if he’d been sparked out when the ball hit his head, but he is on his feet and wants to continue.
50 min Lawrence is fouled 25 yards from goal, a perfect distance for Gareth Bale. This has been a purposeful start to the second half from Wales.
49 min An early chance for Wales. After an extended game of pinball in the Denmark area, Ramsey’s snapshot is vitally blocked by Kjaer.
47 min “From certain cameras angles, Denmark’s coach bears a troubling resemblance to Donald Trump,” says Charles Antaki. “Not a great look, unless the Nations League needs a bit of spritz-up and they run a lookalike compettiion on the side. Blond wig and he’s in.”
46 min Denmark begin the second half. They’ve made one change, with Viktor Fischer replacing Sisto.
Half time: Denmark 1-0 Wales
Peep peep! Denmark lead through Christian Eriksen’s accomplished goal. Wales have played pretty well in a low-key match. See you in 10 minutes for more Nations League action.
43 min That’s better from Wales. After a patient move, Bale drives an excellent through pass that is just miscontrolled on the run by Davies.
39 min Wales started well but Denmark have been much the better team since the Eriksen goal.
36 min Hennessey makes a fine save, flying to his left to palm away a sizzling half-volley from Sisto. The resutlting corner is flicked into the side netting at the near post by Kjaer.
GOAL! Denmark 1-0 Wales (Eriksen 32)
Christian Eriksen opens his legs and shows his class. The right-back Darsgaard played a sharp square pass to find him in space just inside the area. He controlled the ball and then, before the Wales defenders could get out to him, clipped a precise low shot that went in off the far post. It’s a typically classy finish from Eriksen, though Wales will feel he had far too much space.
29 min An excellent effort from Bale. He was found on the left by Ramsey, one against one with Kjaer. He surged past Kjaer with ease and drove a fierce low shot from the left edge of the area which flashed just wide of the far post. I think Schmeichel had it covered.
28 min There was a great reaction to that Sisto pass from the Denmark coach Age Hareide, who looked at his watch in disgust as if trying to decide whether it was too early to sub him off.
27 min As if to prove Adam’s point, Sisto comes up with an early contender for worst pass of the 2018-19 season, a 10-yard shovel that is so far away from any other Denmark player that he has to try to retrieve it himself. Like Roger Milla against Romania in 1990, only crap.
25 min “Hey Rob,” says Adam Kline-Schoder. “Hope you’re enjoying the match! Shoutout to Ampadu, who has made the step up from Perpetual Loanee to international-level brilliantly. I’ve been awfully impressed with him over the last couple games. In addition, is it just me, or are Denmark misplacing an awful lot of passes? Sisto seems to have been particularly guilty today. Perhaps the disagreement with the Danish FA is distracting them? I’m finding it kind of odd.”
I don’t think the pitch is helping. I agree about Ampadu; his positioning and awareness are ridiculous for a 17-year-old. All things being equal, he’ll win 100 caps.
22 min A long throw from Dalsgaard is flicked on by Kjaer, playing Steve Bould at the near post, and Chester heads it behind for the first corner of the match. Eriksen drives it deep to Delaney, who swishes a spectacular left-footed-volley just wide of the far post. Bale was on the line and had it covered, though it might have knocked him out if he’d headed it clear. It was a stunning strike.
19 min An excellent move from Wales. Bale lofts it wide to Gunter, who plays an excellent, sharp pass into Allen on the edge of the box. He eschews the shot and slides the ball outside him to Roberts, whose low cross flashes right across the face of goal.
17 min Wales have shown admirable intent so far. They don’t want to steal something on the break; they want to pass the ball and dominate the game.
16 min Ampadu’s long-range shot takes a deflection and spins into the Denmark area. Schmeichel, under pressure from Lawrence, spreads himself and gets lucky when the ball hits the inside of his left leg and dribbles along the six-yard line. That allows him to pounce on the ball, but it could easily have deflected towards Lawrence or even straight into the net.
14 min Eriksen tees up Delaney, who sprays over from 25 yards.
13 min Ramsey’s excellent cross from the right is superbly headed away by Kjaer, under a lot of pressure from Bale at the far post. The referee gives a foul for Bale’s challenge.
11 min The pitch is a bit slow, which is not helping either side in their attempts to pass the ball. It’s a pretty scruffy game this far.
7 min Ramsey receives a return pass from Roberts, turns and whaps the ball over the bar from 25 yards.
6 min It’s been an uneventful start, though both sides are at least trying to pass the ball.
3 min The 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu has started well, with two or three interceptions in front of the back four.
2 min “Hi Rob,” says Alun Pugh. “Any idea where the 2031 World Cup by FIFA (tm) is going to be held? I reckon Islamic State will have a decent chance of hosting it. The Shackleton Base at the South Pole will fancy their chances too. 24 hours darkness in June will mean moving minor competition dates but it’s been done before and games can be held in any time zone to fit TV schedules.”
I hear they’re planning to stage the whole thing in the cloud.
1 min Peep peep! Wales, in their white away strip, kick off. Denmark are in red.
There’s a cracking atmosphere in Aarhus. Both anthems were belted out with lust and love by the Denmark and Wales supporters.
The players are in the tunnel. I’m looking forward to seeing Ryan Giggs’ ambitious, attacking side in action.
An email! “Alastair Cook’s final innings and you have been bundled off to the Nations League!!” says Gordon Pittendrigh. “Who have you upset Rob?”
Mainly myself. Always myself.
Kasper Schmeichel has injured himself in the warm-up, though it looks like he’ll start the game. Drama in the Uefa Nations League League B Group 4 Matchday 2.
Denmark reached the last 16 of the World Cup, where they were beaten on penalties by Croatia. It’s an odd thing to say about a team who only reached the second round, but they will probably never have a better chance to reach a World Cup final.
Denmark (4-2-3-1) Schmeichel; Dalsgaard, Jorgensen, Kjaer, Larsen; Delaney, Schone; Poulsen, Eriksen, Sisto; Braithwaite.
Wales (4-2-3-1) Hennessey; Gunter, Chester, Mepham, B Davies; Allen, Ampadu; C Roberts, Ramsey, Lawrence; Bale.
Referee Deniz Aytekin (Germany)
Great players are born to play in great tournaments, so there will always be a degree of sadness that Ryan Giggs never appeared in the Uefa Nations League. But at least he gets to manage in it! His Wales team thumped Ireland 4-1 on Thursday, producing some exhilarating football in the process, and today they visit Denmark for their second match of Uefa’s new feast of context.
Denmark have temporarily resolved their financial dispute, which means Wales will play against a proper team rather than a collection of candlestick makers, Futsal stars, YouTube influencers and beard-growers.
The Nations League format has been criticised by some but I don’t know why. It’s all pretty straightforward: if Wales win today, they will qualify automatically for the 2031 World Cup. Stand by for more action in Group 4 League B Matchday 2 of the Uefa Nations League.
Kick off is at 5pm.