Denmark close to booking World Cup spot with Austria meeting

Denmark can qualify for the 2022 World Cup with a victory over Austria on Tuesday, while England will host Hungary at home in what could be the match that seals the deal for Gareth Southgate’s men.

The electric atmosphere at Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium played a big part in the Danes’ Euro 2020 run, which started with the loss to Finland when Christian Eriksen suffered a shocking collapse mid-match.

The agonizing last-four defeat by England at Wembley could have derailed Kasper Hjulmand’s men, but they are the only country in European qualifying still with a 100% win record.

The Danes’ 4-0 win at Moldova was a seventh straight win with no goals conceded and a European-best 26 goals scored.

Andreas Skov Olsen put the Danes ahead midway through the first half in Chisinau and captain Simon Kjaer added a second from the spot just over 10 minutes later against the group’s bottom side. Center-back Kjaer was named on the Ballon d’Or 2021 shortlist on Friday, partly for his quick thinking when team-mate during Eriksen’s cardiac arrest on the pitch. Christian Norgaard netted the third and there was even time before the break for Joakim Maehle to score another for his side.

The Danes are the only side heading into the next round of European qualifiers not needing other results to go their way to progress as they stand seven points clear of second-placed Scotland in Group F.

Group winners qualify automatically for the tournament, with the runners-up heading into playoffs alongside two sides from the Nations League.

Three more points would ensure the next chapter of Denmark’s journey will be at the World Cup in Qatar.

The Danes will also qualify with a draw if Scotland is held by the Faroe Islands, or if the Scots lose.

England hosts Hungary

England cruised to yet another rout, 5-0 at Andorra, though is still only four points clear of surprise second-place Albania and will need to win against Hungary on Tuesday if Southgate’s men don’t want to leave anything to chance.

Five different players scored against the 156th-ranked Andorrans: Ben Chilwell and Bukayo Saka in the first half and Tammy Abraham, James Ward-Prowse and Jack Grealish in the second.

Southgate said Phil Foden’s emergence as an England star was “fabulously exciting” after the Manchester City playmaker stole the spotlight during the match.

Foden’s breathtaking range of passing was key to England breaking down the massed Andorra defense.

Spraying the ball around from deep in midfield, Foden was compared by television pundit Roy Keane to legendary Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady for the accuracy of his passes.

Foden was involved in Chilwell’s goal before playing a fine pass for Saka to score.

Southgate was thrilled by the 21-year-old’s display, saying Foden is so talented it is hard to quantify just how good he can become in the future or where the best position is.

“Look, it’s fabulously exciting, isn’t it? When you are trying to break down a defense as we had tonight, and you’ve got a player who can see the passes he sees and can execute them in the way that he did,” Southgate said, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The match was handled by an all-woman team of match officials, led by Ukrainian referee Kateryna Monzul, one day after a fire damaged one of the stands at the tiny Estadi Nacional.

Hungary was impressive at the European Championship in June though lost again at home, 1-0 to Albania, in an empty Puskas Stadium in Budapest. It was a punishment for racist behavior by fans when England visited last month.

With three matches to go in Group I and four points clear of Albania, leader England however, will need a win against Hungary if Southgate’s men don’t want any unpleasant surprises when the last round of matches will be played in November.

Elsewhere on Tuesday night, Sweden will be looking to move two points clear of Spain at the Group B summit with victory against Greece.

Switzerland will have a chance to edge level on points with Euro 2020 champion Italy in Group C when it takes on Lithuania in Vilnius.

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