The all-time World Cup

May 6th 2005
Rome, Stadio Nazionale
3-3 (1-2)

      GOALS                   19'  0-1  Pauli Jörgensen
                              27'  1-1  Josef Bican
                              44'  1-2  Michael Laudrup
                              50'  1-3  Ole Madsen
                              82'  2-3  Hans Krankl
                              89'  3-3  Franz Binder

      REFEREE                 Romualdas Arppi Filho (Brazil)

      ATTENDANCE              45,000

      YELLOW CARDS            Pezzey, Happel (AUT) - Nielsen, Middelboe (DEN)

      AUSTRIA (Coach: Hugo Meisl, system 4-2-4)

       1 Rudi Hiden
       3 Karl Sesta
       5 Bruno Pezzey
       6 Ernst Happel
       4 Gerhard Hanappi
       7 Ernst Ocwirk (captain)
      10 Matthias Sindelar
      13 Josef Bican
       9 Hans Krankl
      12 Franz Binder
      14 Karl Koller                (-66)

      20 Alfred Körner              (+66)

      DENMARK (Coach: Sepp Piontek, system 4-3-3)
       1 Peter Schmeichel
       2 Ole Rasmussen
       3 Ivan Nielsen
       4 Morten Olsen (captain)
      17 Jan Heintze
       5 Nils Middelboe
       7 Pauli Jörgensen            (-79)
       6 Sören Lerby
       8 Michael Laudrup
      11 Preben Elkjaer-Larsen      (-46)
      20 Brian Laudrup              (-73)

      10 Ole Madsen                 (+46)
      15 Frank Arnesen              (+73)
      21 Thomas Helveg              (+79)


    Austria and Denmark played a do-or-die match in the old Stadio Nazionale in Rome. Denmark, only having drawn to England and lost to Sweden, had to win. A three goal advantage would guarantee a place in the second round. A draw would be enough for Austria if England would beat Sweden, or if the Swedes would win it by a margin of at least four goals. Both teams were equipped pretty offensive, and it turned out to be become one of the most exciting matches of the tournament. Sadly enough for them it ended all square at 3-3 and both Austria and Denmark were eliminated after England and Sweden drew 0-0.

    Austrian coach Hugo Meisl had Karl Sesta back from suspension at full back and decided to insert one extra striker with Hans Krankl which cost Herbert Prohaska his place in the starting XI. Shortly behind the four men up front there was Matthias Sindelar given the task of providing the strikers. If one thing was clear even before the start of the match it was, that captain Ocwirk would have a heavy match in midfield having to do most of the dirty work all on his own. Denmark started with both Laudrup brothers on the wings and Elkjaer-Larsen at centre forward. Jörgensen was put in an attacking role from midfield. It became a match that went up and down the field and the strikers were far stronger than their defensive opponents.

    Already after 3 minutes Josef Bican was released by a Sindelar pass and he blasted it just over the bar above Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel. Denmark did something back but Elkjaer-Larsen squandered the most beautiful opportunity when he appeared all alone in front of Rudi Hiden. The goalkeeper succeeded in turning it away. And before 10 minutes were gone by, Hiden again made a brilliant save from a Lerby shot. It was a great match from the beginning.

    After 19 minutes Denmark took the lead. A fine move on the right took the ball to Brian Laudrup who presented it to Pauli Jörgensen. The powerfully built little man outplayed Hanappi and beat Hiden with a dry shot into the left corner: 0-1. Austria responded immediately with a string of attacks. However in front of goal they lacked a cool head. Sindelar played quite deep, leaving Ocwirk alone in midfield just as expected and the captain had a tough time against running machine Lerby. Austria had to play the long ball from behind but mostly Nielsen headed it away. Still from one of those long kicks the equalizer came. Eight minutes after the Danish goal Austria came back. Sesta knocked it into the box, Heintze couldn't control it and Bican shot it, out of the air, over Schmeichel in the net: 1-1, they could start from scratch again.

    Austria had the better chances from that moment. Schmeichel had to show his full competence on a header from Binder and Bican was close to his second goal when his shot went just the wrong side of the post. Against the run of play at that time, Denmark took the lead just before half time. Michael Laudrup escaped with a brilliant smooth trick from Hanappi and put the ball under Hiden in goal: 1-2. Even after Laudrup's goal Sindelar had the chance of doing something back before the break, but Schmeichel again was in the way and so Denmark went into the dressing room being one goal up. Still that wasn't enough to be sure, but they were well on their way.

    Preben Elkjaer-Larsen didn't return in the second half. He was fouled by Happel minutes before the break. Happel got a yellow card from referee Arppi Filho, Madsen was the player to be sent in by Piontek. And surprisingly enough, where Elkjaer-Larsen had failed, Madsen soon made his presence felt. A cross from Lerby, who had overrun Ocwirk again, landed exactly on Madsen's head and with a beautiful curve fell behind Hiden, beaten for the third time. Denmark two up now, the match seemed to be decided but still Denmark needed another goal to qualify. Austria for a moment were down and out, but then found back their morale. They were able to turn to an "all or nothing" style of play.

    Alfred Körner was brought into the game by Meisl in place of disappointing Karl Koller. It brought more danger from the left were Ole Rasmussen suddenly looked out of place at the highest level. Ocwirk found his power back and offered Lerby a real fight now, Sindelar got the better of Jörgensen who had to back to ground he wasn't too familiar at. Sindelar released many fine passes, the strikers couldn't moan about not being provided too many good balls. It was a miracle that Austria didn't score. Bican hammered the ball on the crossbar, Binder's header touched the post next to Schmeichel. And what was between the post, Scheichel seemed to attract just like a magnet. Piontek thought that midfielder Arnesen could add a little more power in midfield were Hanappi and Happel constantly supported Ocwirk and Sindelar now. Austria however remained the better team.

    Shortly after Madsen had missed the ideal opportunity to make everything clear, Austria as yet came back. From a Koller corner, the ball wasn't cleared and from the 6 yard line Krankl scored: 2-3, the goal of the Austrian hope. When messages came in that England and Sweden were cruising to a draw, Austria still needed two goals. With this 3-2 score, Denmark would be through on the number of goals scored compared to Sweden. But it wasn't to be for Danish Dynamite and Franz "Bimbo" Binder was responsible for it. One minute from time he converted from a Sindelar cross, with his head: 3-3. Schmeichel would have died to save it, but ended up short.

    The 3-3 wasn't enough for both Austria and Denmark. They had fought to the maximum but Sweden were just a goal better than Meisl's men and Denmark ended without a win. They had hoped for an English win against Sweden but when the Swedes carried the 0-0 over the finishline in London, Austria and Denmark went home shattered.

    The last matches in group G are without too much tension. Although Argentina and Germany play a rematch of the 1986 and 1990 World Cup finals. At stake is the win in the group. Germany need a draw to win it and play against Sweden in the round of last 16. If Argentina win, the Germans play England. Argentina-Germany is in Buenos Aires with referee George Reader. Both teams are expected to play with their best teams, Helmut Schön might drop a striker for this heavy test. Turkey and Switzerland are scheduled in the huge Maracana for their last match that is completely meaningless, apart from regaining a bit of pride after the two teams were humiliated by the giants in the group. Referee here is Nikolai Latichev.


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