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Bendtner double boosts Denmark's prospects

Denmark 2-0 Norway
Nicklas Bendtner's first-half strikes strengthened Denmark's hopes of qualifying from a very open Group H now topped jointly by three sides.

Bendtner double boosts Denmark's prospects
Bendtner double boosts Denmark's prospects ©UEFA.com

Denmark boosted their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying prospects with a 2-0 win against Norway that has taken Morten Olsen's side joint top of Group H alongside Portugal and tonight's opponents.

The match was settled by two first-half goals by Nicklas Bendtner, who led the line impressively for the home side ably assisted by quicksilver winger Dennis Rommedahl, who set up both goals in a comfortable home win. Norway's hopes are now fading as they have one game left to their rivals' two, albeit with Denmark still to meet Portugal.

In fact, the margin of victory might have been greater had Lars Jacobsen and Niki Zimling fared better with two close-range attempts inside the first seven minutes. That said, Denmark could also have found themselves behind when Mohammed Abdellaoue found room to shoot, only to be denied by Thomas Sørensen's reflexes.

But that was a brief respite from an otherwise sustained onslaught from the home side, who took a deserved lead when Christian Eriksen combined well with Rommedahl to set up Bendtner. The 23-year-old stepped away from his marker before dispatching a fierce shot into the far corner. The on-loan Sunderland AFC striker then doubled his tally a minute before half-time after receiving Rommedahl's pass 22 metres from goal and firing low past Rune Jarstein.

Norway tried to claw their way back into the match after the break, with Espen Ruud setting his sights with a long-range shot that narrowly cleared the crossbar, but Eriksen came even closer for Denmark after Bendtner, who earned a standing ovation for his standout display when replaced late on, beat two Norwegian defenders before setting up the AFC Ajax player. If Denmark win against Cyprus on 7 October, Norway cannot finish top regardless of their result against the island nation four days later.