Denmark 2-0 France: Dynamite Danes miss out on Nations League Finals despite blowing away Les Bleus
Kasper Dolberg and Andreas Skov Olsen's first-half finishes were enough for Denmark to beat France in their final Nations League game.FotMob - 2 months ago
Denmark threw down a gauntlet for the Qatar 2022 World Cup with a 2-0 win over France, only to narrowly miss out on the Nations League Finals.
First-half goals for Kasper Dolberg and Andreas Skov Olsen put the Danes firmly in the frame to reach next year's final four, only for rivals Croatia to net twice in the second half to beat Austria and finish top of Group A1.
Nevertheless, an assured victory over World Cup holders France in Copenhagen offered a sharp reminder of Denmark's dark horse credentials for Qatar, after also reaching the Euro 2020 semi-finals.
Austria's defeat ensured Les Bleus dodged relegation to the second tier, but for Didier Deschamps, alarm bells may be ringing after a lacklustre campaign.
With the risk of the drop breathing down their necks, it was the visitors who started sharpest, with Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann delivering early tests for Kasper Schmeichel.
Yet Denmark steadily gained ground, and when Dolberg lunged by the left post to meet Mikkel Damsgaard's cross and bobble a finish over Alphonse Areola in the 34th minute, their lead was not an unworthy one.
Olsen's rocket of a volley through a crowded box after a poorly fielded corner was a fine finish too, five minutes later, and it was France who went into the sheds on the back foot.
Attempts to fight back after the interval were frequent, if speculative, with Mbappe almost catching Schmeichel out twice, but Denmark's game management proved too shrewd to be broken, seeing them through for a famous win.
What does it mean? Denmark enhance credentials
Powered by emotion in the aftermath of Christian Eriksen's collapse on this ground last year, Denmark recorded their best major tournament finish for decades in the Euros, edged by England in the semi-finals at Wembley.
But that run certainly feels like no fluke after a Nations League campaign that saw them beat the world champions twice. They could go all the way in Qatar.
Eriksen pulls the strings
After a rocky start to life at Manchester United, Eriksen has quietly emerged as a leader under Erik ten Hag this season, but his importance to Denmark has never been in doubt.
With eight key passes throughout, he managed more than double the next best player in that department – Antoine Griezmann with three for France.
Les Bleus equal record worst year
It's another loss for France in 2022, their third in all in competitive games. That is their joint-worst tally for a single calendar year in history, tied with 1966, 1981, 2008 and 2010. As omens go, it is a less-than-promising one for back-to-back World Cup triumphs.
It's the big one, the World Cup. And guess who are both in Group D? Yes, Denmark will kick off against Tunisia, and France will face Australia on November 22 – before these teams are reunited four days later.