Late leveller keeps Denmark top
Wednesday, 10 September 2003
Denmark left it to the last possible moment to score an equaliser against Romania in their thrilling UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifier at the Parken stadium. The visitors had come back from a goal down to lead 2-1, until defender Martin Laursen struck in the fifth minute of added time to salvage a draw.
The result does not guarantee Denmark qualification from Group 2, but means they retain the leadership. Romania will now need to look to a play-off to qualify for Portugal. It was a bitter blow for Anghel Iordanescu's side, who wasted three golden chances to score a third goal in the closing stages.
The build up to the game was filled with expectation, as both sides could still qualify as winners of the section. Denmark were buoyed by the inclusion of star striker Jon Dahl Tomasson, who was soon causing the visitors problems. On 12 minutes, many in the ground thought the hosts had the lead as Niclas Jensen curled a powerful free-kick into the sidenetting.
The opening goal arrived in the 35th minute. With the Romanian defence on the back ****, Adrian Iensci felled Tomasson in the box. The AC Milan striker got up and took it himself, sending a powerful right-footed spot-kick past the outstretched arms of Bogdan Lobont.
After the break, Romania took the game to their hosts in increasingly cavalier fashion. Ioan Ganea missed the first chance on 53 minutes following fine play from Razvan Rat. Soon after the excellent Crisitian Chivu saw a thumping header blocked on the line by Niclas Jensen.
On 62 minutes, Romania levelled through Adrian Mutu. Florentin Dumitru's cross from the right was deflected, but Mutu readjusted and chested the ball down. He then turned and squeezed a shot past Thomas Sřrensen at the near post.
Romania sensed victory and ten minutes later they took the lead. Danish substitute Christian Poulsen's weak header fell straight to Daniel Pancu, who controlled the ball before striking it low and hard beyond Sřrensen.
Denmark's goalkeeper proved the hero in the closing stages as he repeatedly denied Romania a third. With the hosts pushing forward at every opportunity, gaps were left behind. Mutu, Florin Bratu and Florin Cernat all had chances but could not beat Sřrensen.
They were left to rue those misses, as, in the fifth minute of added time, Denmark equalised. Niclas Jensen's cross from the left skimmed off the head of Ebbe Sand to Laursen. The big defender controlled the ball before poking it past the advancing goalkeeper for what could be a priceless goal for Morten Olsen's team.