Denmark secured their first win in England for 17 years as a Christian Eriksen’s penalty proved enough at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The Inter Milan midfielder struck in the 35th minute shortly after Harry Maguire had been sent off for two bookable offences. England’s disappointment was compounded late on as Reece James was also handed a straight red card following the final whistle.
Here are three things we learned from a grim day for the Three Lions in the capital:
Maguire feels the pressure again
Considering all of the attention surrounding Manchester United captain Maguire and his arrest in Greece before the start of the season, it was always going to be a difficult campaign for the defender. The scrutiny on his performances has only intensified recently with his displays at Old Trafford in the early portion of the season being uninspiring to say the least.
He had yet another poor night on Wembley against the Danes having been awarded a red card in just over half an hour. His lack of pace and awareness was exposed on two occasions; the first being drawn into a rash challenge on Yussuf Poulsen a long way up the pitch. The centre-back then collected another yellow after his poor touch saw him stretch for the ball and then crunch in on Kasper Dolberg.
With Maguire producing a number of poor showings recently for both club and country, it might well be beneficial for Gareth Southgate and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to take him out of the spotlight.
England losing this game is not entirely the fault of Maguire though, it is somewhat down to their severely uninspiring showing. However, another factor was an inconsistent refereeing performance.
Jesus Gil Manzano, whilst attempting to show control of the game produced a few baffling decisions throughout the course of the 90 minutes. Various free-kicks for what would normally be perceived as clean fouls were common and a few poor decisions really did decide this match.
In fairness, he probably was correct in awarding Maguire his marching orders but Eriksen’s penalty that saw Denmark take the lead was debatable to say the least as Thomas Delaney was lightly brushed by Kyle Walker. This was even more perplexing after Conor Coady was felled in very similar fashion in the second period. Again, it was not a penalty but the sheer inconsistency was the most frustrating element.
This disappointment was then compounded late on as James was seemingly sent off for dissent.
Danish determinism claims the game
Whether the win was down to England going down to nine men, refereeing decisions or anything else will not concern Denmark in the slightest. Kasper Hjulmand’s men really had to work for their victory though, putting in an extremely determined defensive performance after taking the lead in the first-half.
Two moments really do stand out that highlight their excellent application to the match. The first was Kasper Schmeichel’s stunning save to paw away Mason Mount’s header from close range, whilst Simon Kjaer did brilliantly to head away Conor Coady’s effort that looked destined for the net.
This kind of performance will certainly give the Danes encouragement that they are able to top the group and they now sit at odds of 25/1 with Unibet to do just that.
England: Pickford (5), Maguire (4), Coady (6), Walker (6); Maitland-Niles (6) (Mings (6), 36′), Phillips (5), Rice (6) (Henderson (N/A), 81′), James (7); Rashford (6) (Calvert-Lewin (6), 72′), Mount (6) (Sancho (5), 72′), Kane (6).
Denmark: Schmeichel (7); Skov (6) (Maehle (6), 45′), Christensen (6) (Jorgensen (6), 45′), Kjaer (7), Wass (6); Delaney (7), Hojbjerg (7) (Jensen (N/A), 88′); Braithwaite (6) (Vestergaard (), 74′), Eriksen (7), Poulsen (6); Dolberg (6) (Sisto (6), 37′).
Goals: Eriksen (PEN 35′)
Referee: Jesus Gil Manzano
Yellow Cards: Maguire (5′, 31′), Christensen (38′), Hojbjerg (45+1′), Henderson (85′), Phillips (86′)
Red Cards: Maguire (31′), James (90+4′)
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