Drama in Scandiniva As Denmark Qualify and Sweden Lose Their Coach

...Senior Writer IOctober 12, 2009

Big Match: Denmark vs Sweden
Event: World Cup Qualifier
Location: [Parken], Copenhagen
Time: 20:00 GMT

It was a night where Sweden had it all to do. Before a ball was kicked, Sweden was sitting in second place, uncomfortably looking over their shoulders with Portugal and Hungary breathing down their necks.

They could take comfort in the fact that those two countries (Portugal and Hungary) were actually facing each other in Group A's other big match. A draw would suit them down to the ground, whatever the outcome in Copenhagen.

As usual with these two neighbouring countries meeting, a lot was said in the build up to the match and emotions were clearly running high but it was events on the pitch that provided the most talking points.

It is worth noting that this was Coach Olsen's 100th match in charge. An admirable milestone indeed!

First Half

If the atmosphere inside [Parken] was loud in the recent home game against Portugal, this time it was downright intimidating.

Barely five minutes was played, when Bendtner got his first sight at goal but he couldn't get enough power behind his effort and it was easily saved. The Arsenal forward was pushed to the left to accommodate the return of captain Jon Dahl Tommason.

A minute later, it was Jakob Poulsen's turn to spurn a half chance. An inviting cross found Poulsen in a bit of space but he could only guide his weak header into the palms of Isaksson.

Unfortunately, that was as big an opportunity the Danes would get all half, as Sweden began pulling the strings.

Star strikers Ibrahimovic and Larsson both went close to opening the scoring but none were clinical enough to beat Sørensen. However, it seemed only a matter of time before the Swedes took the lead.

Such was their dominance...

Second Half

Sweden began the second period as they ended the first-pounding on the Danish goal. They were much more aggressive than the first half, thus creating more chances.

As time went on, there was suddenly total silence inside the stadium as Larsson fired the ball into the back of the net and wild celebrations erupted in the away end. However, the noise levels soon rose again as the linesman chalked off the goal for offside.

Sweden's suffered further disappointment as their dominance brought about another goal, only for it to be disallowed once again. This time the goal was judged to have been out of play before it was crossed by Ibrahimovic.

To add insult to injury, Denmark took the lead against the run of play to spark wild scenes of wild celebrations.

On 79 minutes, Bendtner squared the ball for for Poulsen, who fired the ball from way outside the box into the bottom corner.

The goal proved to be enough as the ref blew the whistle that saw Denmark reach the first major tournament since 2002.

Swedish reaction

Zlatan Ibrahimovic thought the Danish victory was undeserved and Sweden should have won the match.

"It was totally undeserved. We were better than them but they got the three points they needed to reach the World Cup." he said. 

Though, he thinks Sweden deserved more out of the match, he doesn't believe their World Cup hopes would have been won or lost in this match.

"It's not tonight defeat that doomed us. We have played many matches before where we just haven't done the business. We can put it down to bad luck or bad performances but the fact is, we just haven't been good enough." he continued.

Meanwhile Swedish coach, Lars Lagerbäck announced he would quit his job after the match against Albania on Wednesday. He will only stay on if the miracle Sweden are hoping for, comes true - a Portugal defeat and a Sweden win - which will effectively see Sweden claim the playoff spot.  

"We spoke of it yesterday and again today. We agreed that Roland (assistant manager) and I will call it quits, " he said.

"Right now, I'm very sad and disappointed. Right now, I'm disappointed and I can't get the Denmark game out of my head," he said when asked about his favorite moments as coach of the national team.

Another member of the Swedish set up to call it quits is captain and veteran Henrik Larsson.

The 38 year old striker, will play his last match against Albania and will not take part in the World Cup, should Sweden make it.

"The way I feel right now, I won't be taking part of any more matches after Wednesday night, regardless of whether my country make it to the World Cup or not," he said.

Larsson, who has played for clubs such as Celtic, Manchester United, Barcelona, and now plays in Helsingborg, has not yet decided when to end his career. When that happens, he will most certainly take up a coaching role.

"I have picked up a lot of experience over the years and I have a clear vision of what I want to do when I become a manager. The style of play, tactics and glory is already going through in my head," he continued.

Danish reaction

As expected, the wild celebrations in Copenhagen went on late into the night.

Denmark qualified for the World Cup in South Africa in the sweetest way possible—beating their neighbours and arch-rivals and in process, give their World Cup hopes a huge blow.

Coach Olsen had the biggest smile on his face, when he met up with the press, the day after sealing qualification and he came with one message...

"This side is showing signs of something big," he said.

"This is the biggest achievement of my coaching career and I am overwhelmed. Unforseen incidents meant that I had to use 37 different players during the qualifying campaign and it made things difficult at one stage but one way or another, all 37 players and everybody else that have been in and around the team, they delivered." he continued.

Danish legend Michael Laudrup believes this Danish side can do some damage in South Africa, though he isn't getting ahead of himself just yet.

"It was a great, great night to be a Dane and although there were a few obstacles on the way, the boys did fantastic to stick together and deliver when it mattered.

"However, just getting there isn't enough and the boys have to dig deep to deliver some outstanding performances in South Africa because some pretty strong nations are going to be there.

"England have repeatedly showed what a quality side they are with quality players that everyone knows about. Brazil are still the best in the world. Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands all possess world class players but if our boys play like we know they can play, getting in the mix of those top nations shouldn't be a problem." He continued.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

In Group A's other big match, Portugal knew they had to win this match to stand any chance of qualifying, regardless of the outcome in Copenhagen and they did.

An outstanding display from Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco and Simao put Hungary to the sword.

The result means Portugal leap frog Sweden into second place with only one match remaining.

Group standings

1. Denmark - 21 pts
2. Portugal  - 16 pts
3. Sweden   - 15 pts
4. Hungary  - 13 pts
5. Albania    - 7 pts
6. Malta       - 1 pt

Last round of matches

Sweden vs Albania
Denmark vs Hungary
Portugal vs Malta


Denmark 1-0 Sweden 

Portugal 3-0 Hungary 


    Ranking Every World Cup Team After Epic Round Two

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Ranking Every World Cup Team After Epic Round Two

    Sam Tighe
    via Bleacher Report

    Quintero Emerging as Star Colombian Alongside James

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Quintero Emerging as Star Colombian Alongside James

    Gill Clark
    via Bleacher Report

    Kane Has England Looking Like World Cup Dark Horses

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Kane Has England Looking Like World Cup Dark Horses

    Matt Jones
    via Bleacher Report

    'Tortillas That Taste Like Glory' — the Secret of Mexico's World Cup Diet

    World Football logo
    World Football

    'Tortillas That Taste Like Glory' — the Secret of Mexico's World Cup Diet

    Martin Belam
    via the Guardian