Portugal kept their Euro 2012 Championship dreams alive when substitute Silvestre Varela scored the winner with three minutes left to give Portugal a thrilling 3-2 victory.
Portugal, coming into the game on the back of defeat by Germany, needed at least a draw to stand any chance of extending their record of reaching the knockout stage in their last five European Championships.
In contrast, Denmark came into the game full of confidence after their surprising 1-0 win against Holland in their previous game.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who terrorizes defenses while playing for Real Madrid, appeared to the goat for Portugal as he missed two great chances, a one-on-one chance with Andersen in the Denmark seconds before Bendtner’s tied the game at 2-2.
With Denmark looking to hit Portugal on the counter-attack it was Portugal who had most of the pressure in the first half and they turned that possession into a goal in the 24th minute when Pepe scored with a header from Joao Moutinho’s left-wing corner.
Ten minutes later Nani opened up the Danish defense laying on a great cross for Postiga to stroke home to make it 2-0. With the goal, Postiga became just the sixth player to score in three European Championship finals.
At that point I expected Portugal to go on and win this game comfortably, but while they have great attacking players, the Portugal defense is the team’s weakness and they gave the Danes a lifeline right before half-time when the Portugal’s defence switched off to allow Michael Krohn-Dehli to nod Lars Jacobsen’s deep cross back across goal for Bendtner to score the easiest of close-range headers.
In the second half Ronaldo had two fantastic opportunities to wrap this game up for Portugal. Five minutes into the second half, he broke through the Danish defense but his weak shot was easily saved by Stephan Andersen.
But then in the 78th Ronaldo missed a sitter. Nani sent him through one-on-one with Anderson but astonishing Ronaldo pulled his shot wide of the net. What is it with Messi and Ronaldo. They score at will for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively but they seem to always underperform at these big international tournaments.
It looked like Ronaldo’s miss was going to cost his side the win when Bendtner met Jacobsen’s right-wing cross at the far post to head home.
But Varela was there to spare Ronaldo’s blushes with a thumping right-foot shot at the second attempt from Fabio Coentrao’s pass.
So both Denmark and Portugal will go into their final group matches with a chance of progressing to the group stages. Denmark face Germany while Portugal will take on Holland. At the moment it is anyone’s guess who will join the Germans in the knockout stages.