Højbjerg double helps Denmark deny Slovenia

Denmark 2-2 Slovenia
Two goals up at half-time, Slovenia were denied a first win in qualifying Group 2 by Pierre Højbjerg's goals in the second period.

Pierre Højbjerg scored twice for Denmark
Pierre Højbjerg scored twice for Denmark ©Getty Images

Denmark recovered from two goals down to rescue a second 2-2 draw with Slovenia inside a month to stay second in Group 2.

Having drawn in Slovenia on 10 September, Jess Thorup's Danes would have been hoping for a positive start but instead goals from Enej Jelenič and Andraž Šporar rewarded the visitors for a high-tempo first-half display. Denmark came back strongly, and Pierre Højbjerg pulled one back with a memorable goal in the first minute of the second half before ensuring the spoils would be shared again, equalising with a free-kick 16 minutes from time.

The September draw was Slovenia's first point in 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying at the third attempt, yet Tomaž Kavčič's side harried their opponents from the off. The pressure paid off in the 17th minute as Jelenič scored from the edge of the area, and when Šporar was sent through by Haris Vučkič's lofted pass and gave Frederik Rønnow no chance seven minutes later, Slovenia were flying.

Almost immediately, however, Jonas Knudsen missed the chance to bring the Danes back into it after being set up by Rasmus Falk, but the tide had turned. Højbjerg's fine effort found the top corner in the 46th minute to halve the arrears and, though keeper Ažbe Jug denied Nicolai Brock-Madsen from close range, Højbjerg capitalised after Nemanja Mitrovič had brought down Falk on the edge of the box, finding the bottom corner.

Both teams might have won it a hectic final ten minutes, although the point gives each something to build on on Tuesday, when Denmark – with two wins and two draws – visit group leaders Russia and Slovenia welcome third-placed Bulgaria. "We knew this match was going to be difficult and Slovenia pressed us and made life difficult," Thorup said. "At half-time I told the players to throw caution overboard and we played a very good second half. Of course we would have liked three points, but we are satisfied with the draw.

"Our next outing in Russia is a key match. After Russia's [3-3] draw with Bulgaria I feel it is going to be between the three of us to decide who qualifies. Russia are favourites and still undefeated. They are very good opponents, but we go there with confidence."