Denmark and Tunisia’s first World Cup encounter ended in a goalless draw in a captivating contest in Qatar This is Tunisia’s sixth appearance at the tournament, but they have never progressed out of their group. A multitude of Tunisians filled the Education City Stadium and got behind their team from the offset. Tunisia controlled the early proceedings as Denmark struggled to get out of their own half and on the ball.
They began with a great intensity and went in with 110% to every tackle. The first half chance of the game fell to the North Africans as a shot from range took a wicked deflection off Christensen and whistled just wide of the post, although Schmeichel was confident. The resulting corner was glanced over at the near post. It took 22 minutes for the Danes to register their first shot as Andersen unleashed a volley straight into the arms of Dahmen.
Seconds later, a long ball over the top put Jebali through and he went on to score but a late flag ruled the goal out for offside. The best chance of the half came three minutes before the break as Schmeichel expertly denied Jebali with a superb stop, but the forward, upon replay, looked just offside. Denmark were forced into a change at the end of the half as an injured Delaney was replaced by Damsgaard.
It was a thoroughly absorbing first half with the score line not reflecting the chances that were created and the competitiveness of the contest. The second half began at a slightly slower tempo with Denmark enjoying more of the ball. Skov Olsen, not for the last time, had a goal ruled out ten minutes into the half after another offside in the build-up.
Damsgaard was the guilty one as the Danes began to look more threatening whilst Tunisia tired after their early intensity. Kasper Hjulmand switched to three at the back in the 65 th minute with a triple change, in order to push for the winner in a tight game. A lack of creativity was proving to be Denmark’s downfall despite the presence of Erikson and Damsgaard on the field.
However, Dahmen made a great stop to deny a fierce Erikson shot midway through the second half. From the resulting corner, Denmark had a golden chance to make it 1-0 as Christensen headed back across goal but Cornelius was unable to get a significant enough touch on the ball and it hit the post; was eventually cleared. Down the other end, Tunisia had a handball shout turned down and VAR didn’t usher the referee to have a look, perhaps due to Andersen’s close proximity to the Tunisian player who played the ball.
There was more drama to come in stoppage time as a VAR check ensued after a Danish corner. But even though the ball hit a Tunisian hand, Ramos, the referee, did not give a penalty. A lack of quality as both teams tired meant the game petered out somewhat and ended in a goalless draw.
Tunisia will surely be the happier of the two teams as the underdog going into the game, but they showed that they can compete sufficiently with one of the best sides in this tournament. In Russia, four years ago, there was just one 0-0 and, incidentally, it involved Denmark, when they played France. This one also ended in a stalemate, but it did not lack entertainment and had everything but a goal.