Australia keep World Cup hopes alive against Denmark after VAR awards controversial penalty

Charlie Eccleshare
Mile Jedinak scores from the penalty spot for Australia - REUTERS

Mile Jedinak earned Australia a battling draw from the penalty spot to keep their faint hopes of qualifying from Group C alive - but it was not without controversy.

It required an intervention from VAR to award the spot-kick, but Denmark were left fuming, claiming Yussuf Poulsen's handball was ball to hand and unintentional.

Australia named an unchanged side as they looked to pick up their first points of the 2018 World Cup from their Group C clash against Denmark.

The Socceroos were narrowly beaten 2-1 by France in their opener but coach Bert van Marwijk resisted the temptation to make alterations - meaning Tim Cahill once again started on the bench.

Denmark, who started with a 1-0 success against Peru, made one enforced change in Samara as Lasse Schone came in for the injured William Kvist.

It was Denmark who broke the deadlock in the seventh minute courtesy of a sensational strike from Christian Eriksen. Nicolai Jorgensen flicked a pass into the path of Eriksen on the edge of the box and the Tottenham midfielder smashed a half-volley, left-footed, into the roof of the net.

Denmark should have doubled their lead in the 25th minute when Jorgensen got his head to Henrik Dalsgaard's superb right-wing cross, but he somehow put it wide at the near post. 

It had been all Denmark up to that point, but slowly Australia played their way back into the game and equalised in the 38th minute. But it required VAR. The Aussies forced a corner and Mathew Leckie saw his goal-bound effort blocked by Poulsen, prompting claims for handball. The referee reviewed the play and, after consultation with VAR, pointed to the spot. Jedinak stepped up to send Kasper Schmeichael the wrong way.

Australia celebrate their equaliser  Credit: Getty Images 

Australia came agonisingly close to taking the lead in the 70th minute as Schmeichel dropped a cross that landed at Leckie's feet, the midfielder smashed the ball across goal but Henrik Dalsgaard was able to make an excellent clearance from under his own bar. 

The result leaves Denmark leading the group on four points ahead of France's match against Peru this afternoon. Australia are currently third with one point.


BVM speaks

The Australia manager Bert van Marwijk said after the game:

"After two games we should have four points. We deserved it. We didn’t lose but we had chances to win. The first part of the game we were not convinced we could play against them, then they saw the solution and from then on we controlled the game and Denmark were afraid of us. We were not lucky. I cannot blame them. They gave everything, they played very well."

Credit: AP


A wasted opportunity for Australia

Bert van Marwijk will be pleased with the way his team battled back after going behind but really Denmark were there for the taking. As it is, Australia will have to beat Peru in their last game and hope other results go their way. 


What that all means

Denmark top the group with four points, while Australia are third with one point. The Aussies will be hoping France can beat Peru later this afternoon. A win for Peru or a high scoring draw would send Australia to the bottom of the group. 


Full-time: Denmark 1 Australia 1

The final whistle goes. It finishes Denmark 1 (Eriksen 7') Australia 1 (Jedinak pen 38').  

Credit: Getty Images


90+3 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Denmark force a corner that Eriksen takes. Is this the moment for Denmark? Not quite. Braithwaite's volley is weak and straight into Ryan's grateful arms.  


90+1 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Eriksen hits a volley from about 25 yards but unusually for him his technique isn't quite right and he drags it a few yards wide. 

Three minutes of time to be added on. 


90 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

A Schmeichel double save keeps Australia out! First he beats away an Arzani effort from a tight angle before holding onto a Leckie volley that lacked conviction. Denmark survive. 


88 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Australia really are extremely well-organised. Denmark are really struggling to create anything. And when Delaney does finally find himself in space, he completely messes up the cross. 

Credit: AP


85 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Braithwaite looks to have joined Cornelius up front  as Denmark move to a 4-4-2 in search of a winner. Sisto meanwhile picks up a yellow card for disputing an Australia free-kick. 


82 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Australia make another change - Rogic of, Irvine on.  Like for like as one attacking midfielder replaces another. 


79 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Denmark's bright start feels like an age ago now. Australia are well on top, and Leckie should do better from Arzani's excellent inswinging cross but he ends up shouldering the ball. 


76 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Leckie twists and turns and fires in a shot that's deflected safely into Schmeichel's arms. Leckie's been great for Australia this half. 



75 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Terrible blow for Australia as Nabbout suffers a serious-looking injury while challenging for the ball. It looks like a dislocated shouler. Nabbout is in absolute agony. 

Jurics come on to replace him. 


73 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Another Australia effort. Rogic curls an effort in from the edge of the box that's easily saved by Schmeichel. Denmark's Sisto then skews an effort just wide of the far post from about 25 yards out. In between times, Cornelius looked to have had his shirt pulled in the box but nothing doing from the referee. 


71 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Australia really on top all of a sudden. Mooy smashes a shot in from about 25 yards that swerves just over Schmeichel's crossbar. Denmark rocking. 


70 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Australia very close to taking the lead as Schmeichel drops a cross that lands at Leckie's feet. Leckie smashes the ball across goal but Dalsgaard makes an excelllent clearance from under his own bar. 

Both sides make a substitution. Denmark replace Jorgensen with former Cardiff striker Cornelius. Australia take off Kruse off for the highly-rated youngster Arzani.  



67 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Same pattern again. Denmark get to about 25 yards out but run out of ideas and can get no further. Even Eriksen looks suddenly bereft of invention. 


65 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Sisto and Jorgensen try to combine down the Denmark left, but they get absolutely no change from the Aussie defence and eventually the ball runs out for a goal kick. 


62 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Rogic does brilliantly to absolutely school Christensen with a nifty bit of close control. Luckily for Denmark, Kjaer covers for his fellow centre-back and nips in to intercept Rogic's pass meant for Leckie. 


59 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Australia break dangerously again, with Kruse and Leckie to the fore. But the move ends with another weak cross into the box. 

Denamrk make a change - Poulsen, whose booking rules him out of Denmark's game against France, goes off for Braithwaite. 

Credit: AFP


56 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Australia again get into a dangerous position but this time Risdon's cross is overhit and flies harmlessly out of play. There are definitely chances in this for Australia (and indeed Denmark). 


54 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Now it's Australia's turn to almost take the lead. An excellent move down the left ends with a Behich cross that is just too strong for Leckie. An open start to the second half. 


51 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Denmark very nearly reclaim their lead as Jorgensen beautifully flicks a pass into the path of Sisto, who curls a shot just wide of the near post. 


48 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Australia begin the half on the front foot, but Leckie overruns the ball for a Denmark goal kick. No changes for either side personnel or tactics-wise at half time. 


46 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

We're back under way in Samara. 

Credit: AFP


Penalty or not?

The VAR debate rages in the ITV studio, as referee Mark Clattenburg says he doesn't think it should have been an Australia penalty. 


Denmark 1 Australia 1 at half-time

A really enjoyable first half. Eriksen put Denmark ahead with one of the goals of the tournament, before Australia battled back and just about deservedly scored an equaliser after another VAR intervention. The draw suits Denmark more than it does Australia, but it would be a surprise if Bert van Marwijk deviated from his counter-attacking tactics. 

Credit: AP


You are the VAR

Like what you saw there? Have a go at being the VAR yourself. 

test - do not delete



All square at the break. A very entertaining first half. 


45+1 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Two minutes of time to be added on.  

Credit: Getty Images 


45 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Sainsbury claims he is pushed over in the box, but the referee waves away the appeals. No VAR consultation this time. 


44 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Here's the handball incident, as Australia pump a few more crosses into the box that are well dealt with by the Danish defence.  

Credit: AP


43 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

Denmark so nearly back in front! Eriksen's low free-kick from the right evades everyone until Sainsbury inadvertently knocks the ball towards his own goal. Thankfully for Australia the deflection takes the ball straight into goalkeeper Ryan's arms. That could have gone anywhere. This game has really livened up. 


41 min Denmark 1 Australia 1

That goal ends Schmeichel's run of five consecutive clean sheets, and Denmark look rattled. Rogic gallops forward down the right and clips in a cross that just evades Leckie. 


GOOOOOOAAAL! Denmark 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen 39')

Jedinak scored a penalty against France in Australia's opening World Cup game and will take this one. Schmeichel is chirping away at him. Can Jedinak hold his nerve? Yes he can! The Aussie captain sends Schmeichel the wrong way, rolling the ball to the keeper's left. We're level in Samara!


37 min Denmark 1 Australia 0

The referee gives a penalty and books Poulsen for handball! Big decision, that looked very borderline. 


36 min Denmark 1 Australia 0

Australia force another corner, and again Leckie meets it but his effort is blocked. Was there a handball from a Danish defender? VAR is being consulted! 


32 min Denmark 1 Australia 0

That's better from Australia. Leckie does brilliantly down the right and tees up Kruse for a shot about 12 yards out that's blocked on its way to goal. Probably the closest Australia have come to scoring. 


30 min Denmark 1 Australia 0

Australia are getting a bit of joy down the flanks but they're just lacking that bit of quality to turn that into chances. Set-pieces look like being their most likely route to goal. 

Credit: AP


27 min Denmark 1 Australia 0

Dalsgaard incidentally has been superb for Denmark. Bombing up and down the flank from right-back. His opposite number Risdon gets a cross in for Australia that Christensen heads away. 


25 min Denmark 1 Australia 0

How has he missed that? Jorgensen gets his head on Dalsgaard's superb right-wing cross but he somehow puts it wide at the near post. Huge chance for Denmark. 


23 min Denmark 1 Australia 0

Sisto, who's been bright for Denmark, makes space for a shot and stings Ryan's palms with a volley from range. It's a comfortable save though for the Australia goalkeeper. 


20 min Denmark 1 Australia 0

Australia make good progress down the left but Kruse's attempted cross deflects back off himself and out for a goal kick. 


17 min Denmark 1 Australia 0

Australia's gameplan seemed to be to try and contain Denmark and hit them on the break. Despite going behind they're still playing in a similar way, holding their shape as Denmark pass the ball around in front of them. 

Incidentally, look at how that Eriksen goal flew past Mathew Ryan.  

Credit: Getty Images


13 min Denmark 1 Australia 0

Australia have responded well and forced a few corners. They do look dangerous from Mooy's delivery but Kasper Schmeichel has been untroubled thus far. 

Credit: AP


10 min Denmark 1 Australia 0

Not sure there's been a better goal this tournament. The technique required to get that right and not slice the ball over...very few players in the wolrd besides Eriksen could have managed it. Denmark looking well placed to reach the last 16.  


GOOOOOOOOOAL! Denmark 1 Australia 0 (Eriksen 7')

Sensational goal puts Denmark in front! Jorgensen flicks a pass into the path of Eriksen, who smashes a half-volley left-footed into the roof of the net. What a hit that was from the Tottenham man. 


6 min Denmark 0 Australia 0

Swift Australia breakaway led by Leckie ends with Rogic getting a shot away from the edge of the box that's deflected wide for a corner. Mooy swings the corner in beautifully to Leckie, who meets it powerfully but sends his header over the bar. Should have got that on target. 


4 min Denmark 0 Australia 0

Australia are stroking the ball around in their own half. Each pass is met with an 'ole' by their very vocal supporters. 


3 min Denmark 0 Australia 0

Australia forward Kruse gives away a free-kick straight away wide on the right. Eriksen whips it in dangerously for Denmark but Milligan heads clear. From the resulting corner Delaney (not the former Aston Villa defender) skews a header a few feet wide. 



We're under way in Samara. All eyes on Christian Eriksen, and whether Mile Jedinak and Aaron Mooy can keep him at bay. 

A reminder of the teams for this one:

Denmark (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Dalsgaard, Kjaer, Christensen, Stryger; Delaney, Schöne; Poulsen, Eriksen, Sisto; Jorgensen.

Australia (4-2-3-1): Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 


The players are out

And lining up for the national anthems. 



We've heard a lot about VAR over the last few days, but this is very nice from Al TyersThe unintended consequences of VAR

Credit: Getty Images



Denmark, who won their opener,  will all but qualify with a win today. Australia, will pretty much be eliminated if they lose and a draw does them little good either. 

Now or never for the Socceroos (who apparently don't really like being called that).  


Here are the teams together - in tweet form


As is the Denmark team

Denmark (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Dalsgaard, Kjaer, Christensen, Stryger; Delaney, Schöne; Poulsen, Eriksen, Sisto; Jorgensen.

Just the one change for Denmark, as Lasse Schone comes in for the injured William Kvist in midfield. 


The Australia team is in

Bert van Marwijk has named an unchanged team. 

Australia (4-2-3-1): Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 

Tim Cahill is on the bench. 


Predict the score

This is really cool. Tell us what you think will be the key factors in today's game and our clever machine will tell you what the score will be. 

Personally, I'm expecting a 2-0 Denmark win.  


Will Aussies rule?

The 2018 World Cup continues on Thursday with Denmark, who fortuitously scraped past Peru 1-0 in their opening World Cup match on Saturday, against Group C rivals Australia, who were unlucky to lose 2-1 to France a few hours earlier. 

For Australia, today will pose a different challenge from the weekend. Against France they were dogged in defence - expertly marshalled by Mark Milligan and Trent Sainsbury - and had Mile Jedinak and Aaron Mooy snapping away at French heels in front of them. The tactic was to contain and frustrate France, and hope to land a sucker punch from set pieces. It very nearly worked. 

This afternoon though will require a more proactive approach because Australia will be staring at elimination if they fail to win.

Denmark on the other hand can afford to be more reactive - as they were against Peru - and rely on the creativity of Christian Eriksen to unlock the Australian defence on the counter. 

With Kasper Schmeichel on a run of five consecutive clean sheets for Denmark, they may well only need a single goal to claim the win that would all but send them to the last 16. 

Australia prepare for today's game in traditional style  Credit: AFP

Ahead of the match, Australia manager Bert van Marwijk suggested Denmark would have no qualms about playing direct.

"They are physical," Van Marwijk told reporters on Wednesday. "The French they are more creative and have a lot of speed. The Danish can also play football and want to play football but when they don't see a solution they kick the ball as far as possible."

Denmark manager Age Hareide meanwhile acknowledged yesterday that Australia's game-plan will revolve around stopping Eriksen. "Christian is a player who can change matches and we try to get him involved as much as we can," Hareide said. 

"The opponents, they are going to be very cautious and careful about him, but he is used to that, isn’t he, from the Premier League. We hope that we will get him up to a good level and that he will be able to show good things at this World Cup."

We'll be getting the team news at 12pm, if not before, and will very generously share it with you as soon as we have it.