World Cup: Denmark 1 Australia 1 - 5 things you need to know

Denmark's Martin Braithwaite, who plays for English Championship side Middlesbrough, in action with Australia's Daniel Arzani.
Denmark's Martin Braithwaite, who plays for English Championship side Middlesbrough, in action with Australia's Daniel Arzani.PHOTO: REUTERS

Much has been said about VAR at this World Cup so far but Thursday's (June 21) 1-1 Group C draw between Denmark and Australia might be the game on which it has had the most bearing on so far. Denmark started stronger and were rewarded with a top-class goal from Christian Eriksen in the 7th minute but all momentum swung Australia's way with the VAR decision. After being on the wrong end of the stick against France in their first game, the Socceroos were hopping with glee to get their penalty in the 37th minute after a hand-ball by Yussuf Poulsen, whose yellow card means he is suspended for Denmark's next game against France. Up stepped penalty ace Mile Jedinak to make it 15 out of 15 penalties in his career for club and country.

Here's the lowdown for the game:


Denmark 1 (Eriksen 7th) Australia 1 (Jedinak 37th)


Christian Eriksen's sumptuous volley off an equally impressive flick from Nicolai Jorgenson. Great technique and you might be able to count on two hands the players at this World Cup capable of such a finish. As we saw yesterday with Morocco and Iran, lacking a transcendent player who can conjure up moments of individual brilliance can be fatal on the biggest of football stages. That is not a problem Denmark have.


Denmark's Yussuf Poulsen reacts after being shown a yellow card by referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz after he awards a penalty to Australia for handball following a VAR referral. PHOTO: REUTERS


The successful VAR for Australia's penalty in the 36th minute. Whatever your stance on VAR, it has certainly made for compelling drama so far. Play had resumed after Yussuf Poulsen's handball for about a minute before referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz decided on a review. Australian appeals had not been particularly enthusiastic and once upon a time both teams would have just got on with it.

Instead, nearly the entire Danish team including goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel anxiously stalked Lahoz to the dugout and it didn't take a mind-reader to see just how badly Denmark were rattled by the initial decision being overturned.

The potential psychological impact from VAR on either team is enormous and it may be a while yet before professional football players get used to being at the mercy of VAR and the shadowy crew back in some control room.

It was the first goal Schmeichel and Denmark had conceded in 571 minutes dating back to last November.


Australia's midfielder Mile Jedinak (left) controls the ball under pressure from Denmark's forward Pione Sisto during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group C football match between Denmark and Australia at the Samara Arena in Samara on June 21, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

Mile Jedinak. The Aston Villa man might be the second coming of Tim Cahill (who did not get off the bench for this one) in terms of showing up when his country most needs it - he has scored the last five Australian goals in competitive fixtures. Jedinak also displayed more composure than a boulder for his penalty with Schmeichel screaming away and waving his hands madly to coolly slot home.


The Australia team huddles after the match. PHOTO: REUTERS

There is all to play for in Group C going into the last round of matches. Denmark temporarily lead the group on four points before France play Peru later in the day but could still fail to qualify if they lose their last game against France. Australia must win their last game against Peru by a comfortable margin and hope Denmark lose to stand any chance of making it to the knockout stages.