Danish fire not so friendly for England

Denmark 4 England 1: There may be nothing much to gain from friendlies but there were certainly severe losses for England to…

Denmark 4 England 1: There may be nothing much to gain from friendlies but there were certainly severe losses for England to endure last night.

This apparently innocuous game ended in the greatest margin of defeat Sven-Goran Eriksson has experienced since he became England's manager.

It was also the worst England reverse since the 4-1 beating by Wales at Wrexham in 1980. It would have been worse still but for the goal from Wayne Rooney in the 87th minute.

Denmark, who had been eager and quick all night, had scored three times in the second half by then, taking advantage of an England line-up weakened by substitutions that included the introduction of the uneasy goalkeeper David James.


Morten Olsen's team pounced again in the last minute when Soren Larsen got behind Rio Ferdinand to add a fourth goal.

Eriksson often seems to be on a mission to destroy whatever is left of the reputation of friendly fixtures but he met with some resistance here. Parken Stadium was packed and noisy, crammed with anticipation of this fixture.

The England manager had only to look to encounter disappointment on the left wing. Joe Cole had nothing to offer and Eriksson may worry if the midfielder does not get sufficient practice in the first team at Chelsea.

Denmark are a team of considerable pace who took the play towards the England goalkeeper Paul Robinson in counter attacks that showed promise. England were relieved therefore that their finishing was inconclusive with only Claus Jensen really catching the eye with a curling shot which, in any case, cleared the crossbar.

There were sharp edges to some pieces of England's build-up. Thomas Sorensen, the Aston Villa goalkeeper, impressed by tipping away a Jermain Defoe half-volley after 30 minutes.

The other striker in use was Wayne Rooney, who still seems young enough to get annoyed even in friendly fixtures. It is one of the qualities that make him an extraordinary player and his desire to enjoy a role last night led to his cut-back after 37 minutes which gave Frank Lampard the opening for an attempt blocked by Daniel Agger.

Following the interval though England were given a workout they could not have bargained for. With 20 minutes remaining Denmark held a 3-0 lead. This may only have been a practice match but such a deficit inflicted a level of ignominy on the manager that he has not experienced since taking up the job in 2001.

He could blame the fragility on the number of alterations made at the interval and Eriksson will have been appalled in particular by the failings of James.

In the 61st minute Thomas Kahlenderg fired a long pass from the left. James was tentative in his challenge as Tomasson broke behind Ashley Cole and the attacker needed only to roll across into the middle for Dennis Rommedahl to open the scoring.

After 63 minutes Claus Jensen's cross went beyond him. Ashley Cole did get in the way of it but his clearance was headed back by Rommedahl for Tomasson to finish.

After 67 minutes England conceded again from a corner. Even if the substitute Michael Gravgaard did have the luck of a deflection off Steven Gerrard he had been left unmarked to deliver that header into the net.

DENMARK: Sorensen, Agger, Nielsen (Gravgaard 46), Niclas Jensen, Priske, Poulsen (Daniel Jensen 87), Gravesen, Gronkjaer (Rommedahl 46), Claus Jensen (Perez 75), Tomasson (Larsen 64), Jorgensen (Kahlenberg 46). Subs Not Used: Christiansen, Gaardsoe, Bogelund, Jepsen, Skoubo. Goals: Rommedahl 60, Tomasson 63, Gravgaard 67, Larsen 90.

ENGLAND: Robinson (James 46), Gary Neville (Johnson 46), Ashley Cole, Terry (Carragher 46), Ferdinand, Gerrard (Jenas 84), Lampard (Hargreaves 64), Beckham, Joe Cole, Rooney, Defoe (Owen 46). Subs Not Used: Green, Phil Neville, Upson, Carrick, Bent. Booked: Johnson, Ashley Cole. Goals: Rooney 87.

Referee: Tom Ovrebo (Norway).