Mile Jedniak converted a match-tying penalty for the second straight match, and this time Australia held on for a share of the points Thursday and remained in contention to reach the knockout round from Group C of the World Cup with a 1-1 draw against Denmark in Samara.
VAR again played a pivotal role in a match involving the Socceroos as they got the benefit of a review that confirmed referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz’s call Yussuf Poulsen handled the ball in the penalty area deflecting a header by Mathew Leckie in the 36th minute.
It appeared to be a harsh decision against Poulsen, who also committed a foul in Denmark’s opener against Peru that led to a try from the spot Christian Cueva missed in the Danes’ 1-0 victory.
After pointing to the spot, Denmark keeper Peter Schmeichel tried to get into Jedniak’s head with trash talk before Lahoz stepped between the two. The Leicester City shot-stopper continued his verbal barrage while backpedaling to the goal line, but it failed to faze Jedniak in the slightest as he put his attempt slightly inside the one he converted against France while Schmeichel guessed wrong.
It was the first goal Schmeichel allowed in 571 minutes dating back to Denmark’s second-leg playoff win over Ireland to qualify for the World Cup.
Jedniak’s goal canceled out a superb strike in the seventh minute by Christian Eriksen that opened the scoring. The draw leaves Denmark temporarily atop Group C with four points pending the outcome of France’s match against Peru. The Socceroos are third on one point with two goals and a minus-one goal difference.
Australia had the first quality scoring chance in the fifth minute when Leckie sent Aaron Mooy’s outswinging corner over the bar from six yards, and Eriksen promptly punished the Socceroos pay. Nicolai Jorgensen did well to lay the ball into the path of the on-rushing Tottenham playmaker, who made no mistake by lashing a rasping 15-yard left-footed volley Mathew Ryan had no chance to stop.
It was Eriksen’s 13th goal in his last 15 matches for the Danes and 23rd overall.
Jorgensen should have doubled the margin in the 24th minute, but his unmarked bullet header from six yards on a cross from Henrik Dalsgaard on the right went wide of the near post. Robbie Kruse had an excellent chance to equalize on the half-hour, but a heavy first touch on a pass from Leckie allowed Denmark’s defense to crowd him into a deflected shot from eight yards.
Poulsen also picked up a yellow card for the handball and will miss the match against France with his second caution.
It was also the 12th time in as many attempts Jedniak has converted a penalty for Australia. Jedniak has accounted for the Socceroos’ last five goals in competitive matches, with all but one of them coming from the spot.
The Socceroos stepped up their play in the second half, with Leckie and Joshua Risdon creating problems on the right side. Denmark fashioned a chance through Poulsen, with Lahoz playing the advantage as the ball went to Pione Sisto as he put a curling effort wide.
Schemichel was pressed into action in the 68th minute when Andrew Nabbout challenged after a scramble. Aaron Mooy came narrowly close to putting Australia ahead, ripping a 20-yard shot for the upper right corner that whistled wide in the 71st minute.
Rogic then let fly with a curling left-footed shot from 20 yards straight on that Schmeichel did well to collect going to his right. Then it was Sisto’s turn to raise Denmark’s hopes in the 63rd minute, but his curling effort skipped just wide of the right post.
Nabbout was forced off at 75 minutes with what appeared to be a dislocated right shoulder on a fall following a fair challenge, but by this point teenager Daniel Arzani was making his presence felt for the Socceroos. In the 78th minute, he sent a cross to Leckie, who could not get enough power on his header to trouble Schmeichel.
Arzani had Australia’s last quality chance finishing a counter, but his fierce right-footed shot from just above the six-yard box was parried by Schmeichel in the 88th minute.