Denmark are often heralded as the model example of how a small country can consistently compete at the highest level. A nation of only five and a half million people, the Danes have maintained their presence at the major tournaments routinely since sensationally lifting the European Championships in 1990.
So if the Danish model is to be aspired to, Craig Levein’s Scotland team must take confidence from a 2-1 win over the Danes at a soggy Hampden last night.
An own goal from William Kvist Jorgensen and a diving header from Robert Snodgrass on his Hampden debut sealed the victory for the Scots after Allan McGregor’s mistake from Christian Eriksen’s free-kick had leveled the score.
However, Levein will not be without his worries after Denmark dominated large spells of the contest and pressed the Scottish back-line hard towards the end.
A concern for the Scotland boss will be the space afforded to the Danes on the wings as Stephen Crainey and Phil Bardsley were often caught narrow by a diagonal pass from deep in midfield.
Initially the Danes’, ranked forty places above the Scots in the FIFA rankings, possession forced the Scots to play long balls to striker Kenny Miller and Levein’s side suffered a blow after only twenty minutes when Scott Brown was withdrawn from the game after a collision with defender Simon Kjaer.
However, Scotland found an opening just minutes later when Charlie Adam’s free-kick was deflected into his own net by Jorgensen, meaning that the Liverpool midfielder still remains without an international goal to his name.
The lead was not to last. The usually reliable, McGregor misjudged the flight of Eriksen’s free-kick, which drifted over the Rangers keeper’s head and into the top right corner, leveling the game at 1-1.
But once again, parity did not last long, and a magnificent passing move combining Snodgrass, Don Cowie and Miller was finished off by the Leeds Utd star at the back post from Miller’s inch perfect cross.
After the restart, McGregor did his best to redeem himself for his earlier error and saved well from Lasse Schone’s speculative effort.
Levein made several changes with the Danes beginning to dictate play once again with Graham Dorrans and Craig Makail-Smith entering the action in the play of Kenny Miller and Charlie Adam.
The torrential rain falling on the surface was becoming an issue for those on the pitch and Mackail-Smith almost pounced on a back pass to Thomas Sorensen, which stopped in a puddle inside the six-yard box. However, the Stoke keeper cleared it to safety much to the disappointment of those inside the National Stadium.
James Forrest, Barry Bannan and Grant Hanley were also introduced but Denmark continued to press until the final whistle gave Scotland their first win over the Danes since 1975.
Scotland: McGregor, Bardsley, Crainey, Wilson, Caldwell, Adam (Dorrans), Morrison (Bannan), Brown (Cowie), Snodgrass (Hanley), Miller (Mackail-Smith), Naismith (Forrest)
Unused subs: Bell, Berra, Robson, Goodwillie, Turner, McNaughton
Denmark: Sorensen, Poulsen (Zimling), Kjaer, Agger (Jorgensen), Boilesen, Jacobsen (Silberbauer), Jorgensen, Eriksen, Krohn-Dehli (Kadrii), Rommedahl (Pederson), Bendtner (Schone)
Unused subs: Lindegaard, Kristensen, Junker, Enevoldsen
Referee: Marco Borg (Malta)