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The second round of matches in Group B got underway with an enticing tie between Denmark and Portugal at Ukrajina Stadium in Lviv, Ukraine.
Denmark, buoyed on by their impressive draw against the Netherlands in their opening match, started brightly against the more highly favored Portugal, passing the ball confidently and looking strong at the back.
Misfortune struck early though for the Danish, first with an injury to Niki Zimling, who was replaced by Jakob Poulsen, and secondly by an opening goal for Portugal. A Joao Moutinho corner in the 25th minute was met by an unmarked Pepe at the near post, the Portuguese defender coming up with a superb glancing header to beat the Danish goalkeeper Stephan Andersen.
The goal seemed to highlight the discrepancies between the two sides and Portugal began pushing hard for the second. Ten minutes on from the first goal and Portugal were once again celebrating, this time thanks to a Helder Postiga goal, the striker getting in front of the nearest defender to collect a low cross from Nani and score a fantastic goal from a tight angle.
Denmark were far from out of the game however, and grabbed themselves a lifeline just before halftime with a well worked team goal from Nicklas Bendtner. Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio rushed out to deny Michael Krohn-Dehli an easy attempt on goal, but instead the Dane headed the ball back across the goal towards the arriving Bendtner who then had only to knock the ball into an open goal.
All of Denmark’s positive work at the end of the first half was nearly undone early in the second when Poulsen played a poor pass along the Danish defensive line which was picked up by Postiga who looked to be clear through on goal and was only denied by a last ditch tackle from Daniel Agger.
Portugal certainly seemed rattled by Denmark’s goal, with the Danes looking far more assured in possession and frequently foraying into the Portuguese penalty area, with the leading side looking far less comfortable going forward than they had in the first half.
Despite their renewed efforts, Denmark were struggling to create real chances once they were in Portugal’s half, with the Real Madrid defensive duo of Pepe and Fabio Coentrao seeing off most threats.
With just over 10 minutes to play, Portuguese talisman Cristiano Ronaldo spurned a great chance to put the game beyond Denmark when he was one on one with the goalkeeper but his effort was uncharacteristically wide.
With Ronaldo still lambasting himself for the miss, the Danes counter-attacked with pace and proficiency, a deep cross finding Bendtner at the far post for the tall striker to head home his second goal of the night and draw Denmark level in a game which Portugal must have thought they had won in the first half.
Unfortunately for Denmark though, heartbreak was still to come. With just three minutes left in the game Silvestre Varela, after scuffing his first attempt at the ball, swiveled and struck a powerful right footed effort at the bottom corner of the goal and the ball flew past the outstretched fingertips of Andersen to give Portugal a vital 3-2 victory.
The win gives Portugal everything to play for in their final group game against the Netherlands, meanwhile Denmark are unlikely to have much more than pride to play for in their next game against Germany, a game which will most likely be their last at these championships.