Football World Cup: Danes send Super Eagles plummeting

Nigeria 1 Babangida 77 Denmark 4 Moller 3, B Laudrup 12, Sand 59, Helveg 76 Att: 79,500

DENMARK, THE unfancied outsiders, crushed Nigeria's hopes of carrying the African challenge into the last eight of the World Cup with a thoroughly professional performance here last night.

The much-vaunted Nigerians sparkled on occasions, but they were found wanting in what should have been their finest hour and were picked apart ruthlessly by Michael Laudrup. At 34, the Danish captain may be past his prime, but he still had enough in his repertoire to steer Denmark into the quarter-finals for the first time, where they will meet Brazil in Nantes on Friday.

Nigeria came into the match under something of a cloud, with a possible Fifa investigation into their final Group D match against Paraguay which they lost 1-0, having rested six first-choice players, effectively ending Spain's hopes of qualifying ahead of Paraguay. They were back to full- strength of course last night, with Nwankwo Kanu, the Internazionale striker, given his first start since missing the qualifying campaign with a heart complaint.

The Danes came through unconvincingly behind France from Group C, but it was they who found their feet first in the cavernous national stadium. With the game only three minutes old Michael Laudrup found a surprising amount of space between Celestine Babayaro and Okechukwu Uche, and he was picked out expertly by Martin Jorgensen. The Danish captain checked his run and rolled the ball along the edge of the penalty area into the path of Peter Moller, who struck a first-time shot left-footed, low past Peter Rufai into the corner of the net.

Nigeria, who went out at the same stage four years ago after leading Italy with less than a minute remaining, took some time to recover their poise. Michael Laudrup was enjoying plenty of room in midfield and soon made Nigeria pay again for their negligence. Brought down just outside the area in a central position, his back-heeled free-kick was hit powerfully by Moller and Rufai did well to get hands to it, but he failed to hold on and Brian Laudrup won the race with Taribo West for the loose ball to put the Danes two up inside 12 minutes.

At last Nigeria responded with something like the form that made them the people's champions as well as the Olympic champions, and it was Kanu who provided the inspiration with a shot that Peter Schmeichel spilled. Alas for the Nigerians they had no one as alert as Brian Laudrup. Schmeichel had to be vigilant again soon afterwards, diving to claim the ball at Kanu's feet after a lovely through-ball from Jay-Jay Okocha, the Nigerians' playmaker, who was beginning to find his range.

As the first half wore on the breathtaking skills of the Nigerians began to dominate proceedings, particularly those of Kanu and Okocha. All that was lacking was the final touch as Kanu headed over after Okocha had beaten Soren Colding all ends up, and Okocha himself volleyed just wide. The closest they came was when Kanu and Finidi George combined to set up Okacha, who teased three defenders on the edge of the area before making room for the shot which curled just over Schmeichel's bar.

But the half ended with another Moller shot that required a good save from Rufai, and the Danes picked up where they left off after the break with Brian Laudrup's cross-shot leaving Rufai stranded before bouncing to safety off the top of the crossbar. Nigeria were enjoying plenty of possession but as Kanu began to fade as a threat, so Okacha became less effective and Denmark seized the moment to book their passage into the last eight.

Again Michel Laudrup was the architect. Picking the ball up 30 yards from goal there seemed to be little on for him but he manufactured a pass, scooping the ball up and through the Nigerian cover for Ebbe Sand. The substitute still had work to do but he controlled the ball well as it dropped, before stealing in between Uche and West to rifle his shot past the helpless Rufai.

There was more to come, as 14 minutes from time the Danes rubbed salt in the wound by adding a fourth after Rufai had failed to hold on to Jorgensen's shot. Sand nipped in and laid it back to Jorgensen, who picked out Thomas Helveg, and he made no mistake from close range.

All that remained from Nigeria Tijani Babangida's clonsolation effort, a beautifully struck far post volley, but not even the scorer was in the mood to celebrate.

NIGERIA (4-1-3-2): Rufai (Deportivo); Adepoju (Real Sociedad), Okechukwu (Fenerbahce), West (Internazionale), Babayaro (Chelsea); Oliseh (Ajax); Finidi (Real Betis), Okocha (Fenerbahce), Lawal (Roda); Kanu (Internazionale), Ikpeba (Monaco). Substitutes: Yekini (FC Zurich) for Kanu, 65; Babangida (Ajax) for Lawal, 73;

DENMARK (4-3-3): Schmeichel (Manchester United); Colding (Brondby), Rieper (Celtic), Hogh (Fenerbahce), Heintze (Bayern Leverkusen); Jorgensen (Udinese), Helveg (Udinese), A Nielsen (Tottenham); B Laudrup (Chelsea), Moller (PSV Eindhoven), M Laudrup (Ajax). : Substitutes: Sand for Moller, 59; Horst for B Laudrup, 78; Frandsen for M Laudrup, 84.

Referee: Urs Meier (Switzerland).

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album