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POST TIME: 11 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Eriksen punishes Wales
Danish stars return from boycott
AFP

Eriksen punishes Wales

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen celebrate winning 2-0 after the Nations League match against Wales at Ceres Park Stadium in Aarhus on Sunday. AFP PHOTO

AFP, AARHUS (Denmark): Christian Eriksen scored twice in a 2-0 victory over Wales in the Nations League on Sunday as Denmark’s first-team players returned after boycotting a midweek friendly over a contract dispute.

The Tottenham midfielder put the Danes ahead with just over half an hour gone in Aarhus, and Eriksen added a second on 63 minutes from the penalty spot after Ethan Ampadu handled in the area. Age Hareide’s Denmark go top of a group that also includes the Republic of Ireland, who were routed 4-1 by Wales in their opening game on Thursday.

Danish preparations were hit by a standoff between their players’ union and the country’s football association (DBU) over commercial rights.

The issue led to Denmark fielding a team comprised of lower-league and futsal players in Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to Slovakia, but both sides reached a one-match truce to ensure a full-strength squad would face Wales.

Ryan Giggs’ men suffered a hitch of their own when a technical problem with their plane severely delayed their arrival in Denmark, and forced the cancellation of a pre-match press conference.

Thomas Delaney almost produced a sensational opening goal midway through the first half when the Borussia Dortmund midfielder’s superb volley from a corner whistled fractionally wide of the post.

Gareth Bale, on target in the win over the Irish in Cardiff, then drove just beyond Kasper Schmeichel’s left-hand post after the Real Madrid star was given space to run at centre-back Simon Kjaer. Eriksen broke the deadlock with a well-taken effort on 32 minutes, picking up a pass from Henrik Dalsgaard and taking a touch to set himself before stroking low beyond the outstretched arm of Wayne Hennessey.

The Crystal Palace goalkeeper pulled off a marvellous flying stop to deny Pione Sisto soon after, Hennessey launching himself to his left to claw behind a vicious half-volley.

Connor Roberts and Aaron Ramsey saw efforts blocked in the Danish area after the ball pinged off several players, while Martin Braithwaite dragged an effort wide after evading a host of Welsh challenges.

Eriksen effectively ended Wales’ hopes of earning anything from their trip to Scandinavia when he blasted home from the spot after Ampadu handled Viktor Fischer’s cross.

A deflected Bale strike nearly gave the visitors a lifeline in the closing stages but a scrambling Schmeichel turned behind, with only a reflex save from Hennessey preventing Delaney from increasing the damage for Denmark.