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France 1-2 Denmark: Cornelius double downs holders

Andreas Cornelius struck twice to earn Denmark a deserved win in UEFA Nations League Group A1 after Karim Benzema had put the hosts ahead.

Highlights: France 1-2 Denmark

Denmark came from behind to beat the holders and earn an opening victory in UEFA Nations League Group A1.

Key moments

4' Mæhle hits post with close-range shot
48' Schmeichel denies Benzema from close range
Benzema slots in to give France lead
68' Cornelius volleys Denmark level
71' Lloris palms Skov Olsen drive away
81' Kanté curls spectacular effort against post
86' Lloris thwarts glorious Eriksen chance
88' Emphatic Cornelius finish puts Danes ahead

Match in brief: Denmark clinch comeback win

Andreas Cornelius salutes the crowd after Denmark's victory
Andreas Cornelius salutes the crowd after Denmark's victoryAFP via Getty Images

Denmark made a bright start in Saint-Denis, almost scoring within five minutes when Joakim Mæhle fired against a post after Kasper Dolberg had scampered beyond the home defence inside the penalty area.

That scare spurred the holders into action, if not ruthlessness. Kylian Mbappé's curling shot into Kasper Schmeichel's arms from distance was as close as Les Bleus came in a first half defined by the visitors' energetic press and readiness to close down space, cutting off the supply line for last season's Ligue 1 top scorer and strike partner Karim Benzema.

Mbappé did not emerge for the second half after appearing to pick up a knock shortly before the break and his replacement, Christopher Nkunku, provided the moment of brilliance France needed to unlock Denmark's defence.

Karim Benzema opened the scoring for France
Karim Benzema opened the scoring for FranceAFP via Getty Images

After collecting a pass on the right, Benzema found the Leipzig livewire inside the penalty area, and his improvised return ball allowed the Real Madrid forward to bewilder his markers with an expert touch before slotting a low finish beyond Schmeichel from close range.

That beautiful goal briefly handed France the momentum, only for Denmark's dogged chasing in enemy territory to pay dividends again. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg made it count, turning to direct an inviting cross into the path of substitute Andreas Cornelius, who had ample space to pick his spot with a volley that sailed beyond Hugo Lloris.

N'Golo Kanté almost restored France's lead, curling a glorious effort onto a post from distance, and Christian Eriksen could not hide his frustration after Lloris stopped his shot when the playmaker looked certain to score. Cornelius had no such regrets, storming onto a Mæhle through ball and giving Lloris no chance for the 86th-minute winner.

As it happened: France 1-2 Denmark

Vanessa Tomaszewski, match reporter
Denmark contained France through an effective press and were unlucky not to go ahead early on through Mæhle's attempt. Benzema's strike was superb, only for Cornelius to subdue the Stade de France with a clinical equaliser and, just when a draw looked on the cards, a fierce finish – giving Denmark a well-earned victory.


Eriksen hails massive Denmark win

Kasper Hjulmand, Denmark coach: "We are, above all, very happy and very proud of this fantastic performance here in Paris, and all the credit goes to the players. People will celebrate this victory in the streets in Denmark, and we are happy to be able to make the country happy. It's a very big victory. We'd prepared for this match for a long time. We wanted to have the upper hand in midfield and not give up space to the French behind us. We had to change the game system and it's great to see the players able to adapt."

Andreas Cornelius, Denmark forward: "It went better than I expected. It was fantastic at the stadium here, with 80,000 people, and then we went and beat the world's best team. We have a strong team with good players all over the pitch. We are a small country but we can compete with the best."

Mikkel Damsgaard, Denmark winger: "It was absolutely fantastic to come back against one of the world's best national teams – even on the road, it feels really good. It was nice to see all the boys again. It was great to play with Eriksen and I hope we can have more minutes together and get to play even more. But it was great just to play."

Guy Stéphan, France assistant coach: "We knew the Danish team was a good one, very structured. If the strike from [Kanté] goes in, it could have changed things. It was a match between two good teams – there were less good passages but also good passages. There are areas of work that we'll have the opportunity to work on in training."

Huge Lloris, France captain: "We're disappointed about the loss, obviously. There are things to learn from this match. It puts the brakes on our very good recent form and now we need to bounce back as a team and taste victory again."

Key stats

Denmark celebrate their victory
Denmark celebrate their victoryAFP via Getty Images
  • Denmark have won 11 of their last 14 matches, losing the other three.
  • The Danes have scored in all but one of their last 15 games.
  • Kasper Hjulmand's side have lost only two of their last 11 UEFA Nations League matches, winning six.
  • France have scored in each of their last 21 matches.
  • Les Bleus had conceded the first goal in three of their previous four home games in the competition, winning each time.
  • The hosts lost for the first time in 21 games, having won 14 of those matches.


France: Lloris; Koundé (Diaby 90+2), Varane (Saliba 61), L. Hernández; Coman (Klauss 90+2), Kanté, Griezmann (Rabiot 78), Tchouameni, T. Hernandéz; Benzema, Mbappé (Nkunku 46)

Denmark: Schmeichel; Andersen, Nelsson, Vestergaard (Kristensen 60), Mæhle; Højbjerg, Delaney (Jensen 85); Eriksen; Wass (Damsgaard 60), Skov Olsen (Braithwaite 84); Dolberg (Cornelius 59)

What happens after the UEFA Nations League group stage?

UEFA via Getty Images

The four group winners in League A will advance to the knockout finals with, in principle, one appointed as hosts. The semi-finals will be played on 14 and 15 June 2023, with the final and third-place play-off to follow on 18 June

The teams finishing fourth in the groups in Leagues A will be relegated to League B for the 2024/25 edition.

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