|Attempts on target||6||5|
|Attempts off target||3||5|
Denmark coach Morten Olsen revealed his delight at the "fantastic will to win" shown by his players after they enjoyed the better of a goalless draw with Italy in their opening UEFA EURO 2004™ Group C match in Guimarães on Monday.
Denmark turned in an impressive performance against an Italy side that, at times, appeared disjointed, but that nevertheless created a string chances of their own in a pulsating encounter at the sun-drenched Estádio D. Afonso Henriques. Indeed, but for some exceptional goalkeeping from Gianluigi Buffon and Thomas Sørensen, the scoreline would have been very different.
While Sørensen won the Carlsberg Man of the Match award, largely thanks to a thrilling double save from Alessandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti just before half-time, there were several other excellent performances on the Denmark side. Jon Dahl Tomasson, in particular, led the front line with skill and intelligence.
In 1992, when Denmark won the UEFA European Championship, they started their campaign in similar fashion – with a goalless draw against England – and, while Olsen was reluctant to draw comparisons, he believes there is plenty of cause for optimism. "We controlled the game in the first half, although the Italians also had a few chances and our goalkeeper Thomas Sørensen kept us in the game at times," he said.
'Two points lost'
"We showed a fantastic will to win today and physically and tactically the players did exactly as we had agreed on before the game.
I probably would have settled for a draw beforehand but now I realise that we deserved to win, so I feel as though we have lost two points rather than gained one."
Olsen singled out central defender Martin Laursen, who played in Italy for AC Milan last season, as his team's brightest performer, saying: "I think Laursen deserves the Man of the Match award - he was outstanding in central defence. While goalkeeper Sørensen added: "Today's result does not come as a surprise for us. In the past two years we've played some high-quality and consistent football."
Italy had started the game with Christian Vieri as a lone striker, supported by the attacking trio of Alessandro Del Piero, Francesco Totti and Mauro Camoranesi, but made little impact on a well-organised Danish defence in the first half. Del Piero moved from the left wing into a central attacking role after the break, and the switch instantly gave Italy a better balance to their attack.
Giovanni Trapattoni, the Italy coach, said: "We only really performed well in the second half. Totti had much more influence when he dropped deeper and [Gennaro]
Gattuso also made a difference when he came on because he helped us push the game into the Danish half. At the beginning we were not able to play the way we wanted, but at least we will now know how to play in the future games."
Italy face Sweden and Bulgaria in their two final Group C matches and Trapattoni hoped for a draw between those two sides on Monday evening. "That would help us in our bid to get to the quarter-finals," he explained. "Now we have got the first game out of the way we have a better picture of how the group will pan out. We have had the chance to test ourselves against a good team and, even though we played quite well in the second half, the heat was not in our favour."
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