Estadio La Corregidora, Querétaro, 13.06.1986
Denmark

0-2 (0-1)
– / J. Olsen pen 43., Eriksen 62.

Sepp Piontek’s Denmark side had taken Mexico by storm; after a workmanlike 1-0 win against Scotland in their opening game, “Danish dynamite” had truly exploded in their next game against Uruguay, which would see the South Americans torn to shreds in what was a stunning display of skill and close control. The Danes had racked up the goals in a 6-1 win, which had more or less booked their place in the second phase with two wins out of two.

With the two final group fixtures to be played, Denmark would be on top with a maximum four points and a +6 goal difference, Germany were sitting in second with three points and +1, Uruguay were in third with a single point and -5, while unlucky Scotland were sitting at the foot of the group with no points and a goal difference of -2. Given the system at the time which would see the top four third-placed teams advance into the second phase, Germany were already assured of their berth following the results of earlier groups; in fact, they were more or less guaranteed a second-place finish given that the only team that could draw level with them on points – Uruguay – had a massively inferior goal difference.

The complex nature of the draw meant that groups were not “paired” up the way they are now – the schedule meant that the winners of Germany’s Group E would play the runners-up of Group D – Spain – while the runners-up would play the winners of the then undecided Group F, which could have been any one of England, Portugal, Poland or Morocco. Third place was the one to avoid, the prospect being a possible meeting with Argentina or Brazil.

In hindsight, the Germans would not have minded a defeat against Denmark – a match against any of the Group F teams in the second phase was always going to be a far better prospect than a tie against the Spaniards, who had been impressive in their group games and had been unlucky in losing 1-0 to favourites Brazil. Uruguay meanwhile would have to score at least three or four goals against Scotland to see them through in second place; a more realistic aim for them was to secure a draw against the Scots which would see them sneak into the next phase in third place.

This situation suited Franz Beckenbauer’s men perfectly, as they knew they just had to turn up for the Denmark game and not go the same way as the Uruguayans had done the week before. A number of changes were made to the side: Klaus Augenthaler was dropped with Ditmar Jakobs being brought into the sweeper role, defensive powerhouse Hans-Peter Briegel was given the day off with Andy Brehme joining a four-man defensive line-up, and both Wolfgang Rolff and Matthias Herget would make their first tournament appearances in midfield in place of Felix Magath and Pierre Littbarski. The partnership of Klaus Allofs and Rudi Völler once again started up front.

Both sides would begin the match brightly, with Germany probably coming closest to opening the scoring. First Rudi Völler forced a good save from the Danish ‘keeper Lars Høgh, before Andy Brehme smashed a forty-yard piledriver against the crossbar. Frank Arnesen earned a yellow card for a spectacular penalty-seeking dive, but the Danes were to see the decision go their way on the stroke of half-time when a spectacular run from the usually unspectacular Morten Olsen was cut short by Wolfgang Rolff. Jesper Olsen calmly slotted the Elfmeter to Toni Schumacher’s right to take the Danes into a hardly deserved 1-0 lead.

Denmark’s Jesper Olsen calmly rolls the ball past Toni Schumacher to set his side on their way to a 2-0 win

The second half started in much the same way as the first, with Rudi Völler getting his second decent chance of the match after being put through by Matthäus; the Bremen man had plenty of time to take aim and shoot, but only succeeded in hitting the ball straight at the advancing Høgh. With just over an hour gone it was clear that this was not going to be either Völler’s or Germany’s day, as the Danes produced a bit of magic that saw Frank Arnesen put Michael Laudrup free on the right. Making good use of the acres of space, Laudrup’s neat cross found substitute Jon Eriksen who had the simplest job to tap the ball past Toni Schumacher to make it 2-0. There was a slight whiff of offside about the final ball, but hey – I wasn’t going the grudge the Danes that one.

For much of the remaining time it was end to end stuff with pot-shots at goal from both sides – Arnesen and Lerby for Denmark and Littbarski for Germany; substitute Karlheinz Rummenigge could also have done better in scuffing a shot straight into the arms of the Danish Torhuter.

With two minutes to go Danish midfield stalwart Frank Arnesen was needlessly sent off for a second bookable offence when he stamped on a prone Lothar Matthäus after a rather scrappy tussle. Arnesen’s rash act was doubly incomprehsible given that his side were 2-0 up with less than two minutes remaining; only after the event did he realise its full implications. Clearly contrite in his apology to Matthäus, the PSV man’s dismissal was to arguably have an even greater impact on his side – which without his tenacity and midfield nouse were crushed 5-1 by Spain and a rampant Emilio Butragueño in the second phase.

As for Beckenbauer and the Nationalmannschaft, it was a case of job done. It may not have been the most convincing group phase, but they had done more than enough and were through. One of England, Portugal, Poland or Morocco awaited them in Monterrey.

Germany FR: Schumacher (c) – Jakobs – Berthold, Eder, Förster (71. Rummenigge), Brehme – Matthäus, Rolff (46. Littbarski), Herget – Allofs, Völler

Denmark: Høgh – Sivebæk, M. Olsen, Busk – Mølby, Arnesen, Andersen, J. Olsen (71. Simonsen), Lerby – Elkjær-Larsen (46. Eriksen), Laudrup

Referee: Alexis Ponnet (Belgium)
Assistants: Christopher Bambridge (Australia), Erik Fredriksson (Sweden)

Yellow Cards: Eder / Arnesen
Red Cards: – / Arnesen 88.

Attendance: 36,000

First Phase Group E Table

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
DenmarkDenmark (Q)330091+86
GermanyGermany (Q)311134-13
UruguayUruguay (Q)302127-52
ScotlandScotland301213-21

Other results: Scotland 0-1 Denmark; Denmark 6-1 Uruguay; Scotland 0-0 Uruguay.

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