Varela strike secures last gasp win for Portugal

Denmark 2 Portugal 3

Substitute Silvestre Varela kept alive Portugal's hopes of qualifying from Group B with a late strike to spare the blushes of some of his more illustrious team-mates in Lviv.

The Porto forward smashed home the winner having come on just four minutes earlier after Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo had missed two straightforward opportunities to put the result beyond Denmark.

Portugal's chances had looked increasingly remote with just three minutes remaining after they squandered a two-goal lead.

Goals from Pepe and Helder Postiga had Paulo Bento's side coasting but Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner appeared to have secured a point as he continued his remarkable scoring spree against the Portuguese with both of his country's efforts to take his tally to six in five matches against their European rivals.

The win gave Portugal their first points of the tournament and ensured they go to the last match still in with a chance of reaching the quarter-finals.

Having wrestled the early initiative from Denmark, who lost Niki Zimling to an early calf injury, Ronaldo failed to test goalkeeper Stephan Anderson with a free-kick from wide on the left but their next two set-pieces were more productive.

Miguel Veloso's long-range free-kick saw Postiga's shot deflected wide but from the resulting 24th-minute corner Portugal took the lead.

Nani's inswinging cross picked out the run of the unmarked Pepe and the Real Madrid defender's glancing header beat Anderson at his near post.

Boosted by the goal Portugal continued to press forward and doubled their lead 12 minutes later.

Simon Kjaer's clearance from Fabio Coentrao's cross only reached Joao Pereira who quickly transferred the ball to Nani and his square pass was smartly converted by Postiga.

Christian Eriksen registered Denmark's first shot on target to draw a save from Rui Patricio but the Portugal goalkeeper was helpless to prevent the Danes from pulling one back four minutes before half-time.

Jakob Poulsen's hanging cross to the far post picked out Michael Krohn-Dehli who headed back across goal for Bendtner to nod home his 19th international goal in his 50th appearance.

Portugal should have re-established their cushion five minutes into the second half after Kjaer's misjudgement of Nani's crossfield pass sent Ronaldo racing clear but he shot too close to Andersen.

Another mistake, this time by Eriksen, gave the ball to Postiga and only a perfectly-timed tackle from Daniel Agger prevented the striker breaking into the penalty area.

William Kvist drilled a long-range shot narrowly wide, Bendtner scuffed one off target while substitute Tobias Mikkelsen, on after Dennis Rommedahl's hamstring injury, started to find joy down the right as Denmark began to push harder for the equaliser.

Ronaldo's frustrating tournament continued as he should have wrapped up victory 12 minutes from time when put clean through by Nano but shot wide with only Andersen to beat.

He was punished for that mistake as Bendtner's far-post header from Lars Jacobsen's deep cross proved too powerful for Patricio to keep out.

However, there was a further twist three minutes from time when Varela smashed home with his second attempt to convert Coentrao's left-wing cross.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones