Scots undone by Laudrup brothers

INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL: Brown's optimism for Euro 96 dented as dazzling Danes defeat makeshift defence
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Denmark 2 Scotland 0

Scotland may have been playing in the land of Hans Christian Andersen, yet it was Denmark's brothers grim, Michael and Brian Laudrup, who did most to undermine their optimism for the European Championship finals in last night's friendly at the Parken Stadium.

Each lit up a balmy evening with a goal during a dizzying display of first-half attacking, which both emphasised the folly of writing off the European champions and highlighted the size of the task facing Craig Brown's side in England.

The sibling revelry started after only seven minutes, when Michael Laudrup scored. It continued in the 27th minute after he manufactured the opening from which Brian effectively ended the game as a contest.

Denmark's early dominance exposed an uncertainty in Scotland's defence that was as disturbing as it was perhaps inevitable given that Brown had lost two-thirds of its regular members, Colin Calderwood and Alan McLaren, to injury.

Colin Hendry, dragged out of position to the Danish right, uncharacteristically allowed Mikkel Beck to get goal-side of him. The German-based striker, who may well be playing alongside Brian Laudrup for Rangers next season, advanced to the penalty area before cutting the ball back to Michael Laudrup.

His pass clipped the only covering defender, Stewart McKimmie, which made the ball sit up obligingly for the Danish captain. An angled volley, giving Laudrup Snr his 35th goal in 87 internationals, left Jim Leighton with no chance.

Scotland's 37-year-old keeper, who gave way to Andy Goram in a pre-arranged substitution at half-time, was also blameless when Denmark doubled their advantage. Michael Laudrup threaded a sublime pass through a square back line, whereupon his younger brother sprinted from just inside Scotland's half before rounding Leighton to collect his 11th goal in 62 caps.

Only the agility and anticipation of Leighton had prevented Scotland from being routed by the interval. Beck, released by Brian Laudrup, was thwarted by an outstretched leg. The libero, Lars Olsen, was allowed similarly embarrassing room, only for Leighton to block his shot at point-blank range.

Scotland, who had looked bright before falling behind, created only one real opening thereafter. Gary McAllister, who alone drove forward with any apparent conviction, fed John Spencer, who in turn found Kevin Gallacher. Not to be outdone by his Old Trafford predecessor, Peter Schmeichel parried at full stretch.

Brian Laudrup fired wide from a simpler chance than the one with which he had scored, while West Ham's Marc Rieper headed over when well placed. The crowd were in carnival mood at the start of the second half, when Michael Laudrup embroidered his virtuoso performance with a burst of trickery that was once the preserve of Brazilians and Scots.

Mercifully for Scotland, it could not last. Indeed, Spencer might have halved the deficit but for the last-ditch intervention of Thomas Helveg, while McAllister gave Schmeichel's understudy, Mogens Krogh, a chance to demonstrate his worth with a booming drive from 30 yards.

They were, however, no more than defiant gestures. Denmark, and the Laudrups in particular, had already done enough to whet the appetite for Euro 96.

DENMARK (1-2-5-2): Schmeichel (Manchester Utd); Olsen (Brondby); Rieper (West Ham), Risager (Brondby); Helveg (Udinese), Thomsen (Ipswich), M Laudrup (Real Madrid), B Nielsen, Schjonberg (both Odense); Beck (Fortuna Cologne), B Laudrup (Rangers). Substitutes: Krogh (Brondby) for Schmeichel, h-t; Laursen (Silkeborg) for Risager, 81; A Nielsen (Brondby) for M Laudrup, 85.

SCOTLAND (3-5-2): Leighton (Hibs); McKimmie (Aberdeen), Hendry (Blackburn), Boyd (Celtic); Burley (Chelsea), McCall (Rangers), McAllister (Leeds), Collins, T McKinlay (both Celtic); Gallacher (Blackburn), Spencer (Chelsea). Substitutes: Gemmill (Nottm Forest) for McCall h-t; Goram (Rangers) for Leighton h-t; McCoist (Rangers) for Spencer, 72; Jackson (Hibs) for Gallacher, 72; W McKinlay (Blackburn) for Hendry, 75.

Referee: J Wegereef (Netherlands).