Denmark are dismissed despite win

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The Independent Online
Denmark 3 Turkey 0

The game was up for Denmark within 35 minutes yesterday. The reigning champions bowed out of Euro 96 with a win but played in much the mediocre fashion they had shown throughout the tournament. It was wholly appropriate that their exit should be signalled elsewhere.

The Danes had to hope that Portugal would lose to Croatia to have any chance of reaching the quarter-finals but, once the early news from Nottingham made it clear that was not going to happen, this game meandered to its logical conclusion. They won, thanks to two goals from Brian Laudrup and another from Allan Nielsen, although the impression they left was of a less than vigorous defence of their crown.

It was a match of little flair played between two undistinguished teams - a description that regular visitors to Hillsborough will not be totally unfamiliar with. The Danes had promised to give their supporters something to remember but, apart from sporadic flashes from the Laudrup brothers, this was the sort of game that will be soon forgotten even in the most football rabid parts of Copenhagen.

The first half was a sequence of errors, the most blatant of which was Brian Laudrup's volley over from six yards in the 41st minute that was at least eight feet too high. At the other end, Turkey almost took an unexpected lead when Orhan Cikirikci's 19th-minute shot deflected off Claus Thomsen, Peter Schmeichel diving backwards to claw the ball away from the top corner.

The football had to improve after the interval, and the second half got off to a good start when Brian Laudrup put the Danes ahead. Erik Bo Andersen flicked the ball on and, when Ogun Temizkanoglu's attempted clearance merely teed the ball up for the Rangers striker, he strolled round Rustu Recber in the Turkish goal and rolled the ball into the net.

With that, Turkish discipline evaporated and they charged forward in the hope of glory, leaving huge gaps at the back. It became a question of how many times the Danes could profit from the space and, but for Rustu, the scoreline might have been more emphatic. He could not compensate for the lack of cover entirely, however, and after 68 minutes Allan Nielsen made it 2-0. Michael Laudrup picked up a rebound 25 yards out and slipped a delightful ball through to the Brondby midfielder, who stabbed a shot past Rustu with the outside of his right foot.

Brian Laudrup was still bewitching defenders and with seven minutes remaining he got the third goal that had a similarity to the second. Erik Bo Andersen was the provider this time, giving Laudrup the freedom of the area with a short pass.

The defeat, in the end, was comprehensive but was unsatisfactory nonetheless. The Turks arrived in England with little expectations and thoroughly lived up to them. Denmark were the fairy-tale team of four years ago, however, and more was expected. One win from three matches was not a compelling sequel.

Goals: B Laudrup (49) 1-0; A Nielsen (69) 2-0; B Laudrup (84) 3-0.

DENMARK (5-3-2): Schmeichel (Manchester United); Helveg (Udinese), Rieper (West Ham), Hogh (Fenerbahce), Thomsen (Ipswich), Schjonberg (Odense); A Nielsen (Brondby), M Laudrup (Real Madrid), B S Nielsen (Odense); E B Andersen (Rangers), B Laudrup (Rangers). Substitutes: Larsen (Lyngby) for Schjonberg, h-t; S Andersen (Aalborg) for E B Andersen, 87.

TURKEY (5-1-3-1): Rustu (Fenerbahce); Recep (Beskitas), Alpay (Karakbukspor), Ogun (Trabzonspor), Vedat (Karabukspor), Abdullah (Trabzonspor); Tayfun (Fenerbahce); Hami (Trabzonspor), Tugay (Galatasaray), Orhan (Trabzonspor); Hakan (Galatasaray). Substitutes: Arif (Galatasaray) for Hakan, h-t; Saffet (Kocaelispor) for Orhan, 68; Bulent (Galatasaray) for Recep, 68.

Referee: N Levnikov (Russia).

Bookings: Denmark: Helveg, Larsen. Turkey: Tugay, Tayfun, Rustu.

Man of the match: B Laudrup.

Attendance: 28,951.