Denmark’s hopes for an upset over Italy were dashed as a late strike from Alberto Aquilani earned the Azzurri a 2-2 result at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on Friday in UEFA World Cup qualifying.
Aquilani’s goal denied Denmark of three points on the same day that Bulgaria suffered a shocking upset to Armenia, 2-1, and as the Czech Republic earned an easy victory over Malta. With Italy’s 2014 World Cup already booked, the battle for second place in Group B is a four-nation race with Bulgaria and Denmark each with 13 points, and just ahead of the Czech Republic and Armenia with 12.
Italy got the scoring started in the 28th minute when Dani Osvaldo scored on a counter attack. The Southampton star also assisted on the Aquilani goal with a fine cross.
Nicklas Bendtner scored a brace for Denmark with a goal just before halftime, and his second coming in the 79th. The Arsenal forward, who has been used sparingly by Arsene Wenger, was able to head the ball past goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon for the equalizer off a free-kick assist from Michael Krohn-Dehli.
It was particularly agonizing result for the Danes. Denmark were denied by the woodwork twice in the second half with Christian Eriksen and Andreas Bjelland both just missing a crucial third goal.
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The match was rather even with Denmark taking 13 shots with four on target, while Italy took 12 with four on goal. Denmark just edged Italy in possession, 56-44.
Denmark’s next qualifying match is on Tuesday at home against Malta, who only have one win. Italy, meanwhile, host Armenia.