Sabtu, 18 Juni 2011

Danish dream frozen out by Iceland

UEFA U21 Championship - Denmark 1:3 Iceland

"No jocund health that Denmark drinks today" - Hamlet I.ii


'The History of Danish Dreams' was the 1988
novel which launched Copenhagen's Peter Høeg onto the world's literary stage, but tonight in Aalborg dreams of making history became nightmares as Denmark's U21 team was eliminated as host nation after a demoralising 3-1 defeat to Iceland.

Saturday night fever struck the home side, who needed only a point to qualify for the semi-finals as Switzerland trounced Belarus in Aarhus. As it transpired, both the Swiss and Belarussians made it to the last four after three teams finished on three points, leaving the Scandinavian nations on the quayside and Belarus advancing on head-to-head goal difference.

The Viking gods were not smiling on the Danes who missed a hatful of chances on a rainy night in the Jutland peninsula. They took the game to their visitors and dominated the first half, yet while nullifying the Icelandic threat, worryingly failed to find a way of unlocking their defence at the other end.

All the goals came after the break, as Iceland finally showed the form which took them to the finals ahead of Germany and made them much fancied before the tournament began.

Kolbeinn Sigthorsson opened the scoring on 58 minutes and Birkir Bjarnason added a second on the hour to leave Denmark staring down the abyss. The Danes had already had no luck in front of goal and with no choice but to throw caution to the wind, left more exploitable space in midfield.

A glimmer of hope arrived with Bashkim Kadrii's 81st minute header, but more missed Danish chances followed and
Hjörtur Valgardsson killed the game with an injury-time curler from just outside the area.

3-1 to Iceland but both teams eliminated. Denmark, like its famous prince Hamlet, had suffered the 'slings and arrows of outrageous fortune' and at the final whistle, exited stage left.

Group A - final positions

Q- Switzerland 9pts
Q- Belarus 3pts
Iceland 3pts
Denmark 3pts

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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