Denmark finished off their Euro 96 campaign on a high note with an emphatic 3-0 win over Turkey. Denmark had a mathematical chance of qualification to the knockout stages, but a 3-0 win for Portugal over Croatia in Nottingham saw the reigning European champions bow out in the group stages. Turkey finished their campaign pointless and without scoring a goal.
Knowing that even if he received the help he needed from Croatia in the form of a Portugal loss, the Danes would still need to overturn a four goal differential, Richard Moller Nielsen started with a 3-5-2 featuring a front pair of Erik Bo Andersen and star man Brian Laudrup. Brother Michael Laudrup played behind the front two, and in front of a midfield duo of Alan Nielsen and Brian Steen Nielsen.
Turkey coach Fatih Terim also lined his team up in a 3-5-2, and made three changes from the 1-0 defeat to Portugal.a week earlier. Saffet Sancakli was replaced by Hami Mandirali in attack, who partnered Hakan Sukur up front. Orhan Cikirikci and Tayfuk Korkut were drafted into midfield, in place of Oguz Cetin and Sergen Yalcin respectively. Tugay Kerimoglu completed the trio in the heart of the Turkish midfield.
It was a relatively quiet opening 15 minutes of the game, with the most impactful moment coming 40 miles away. Luis Figo opening the scoring for Portugal meant that Denmark would be eliminated regardless of the result here unless Croatia could produce a comeback win. Turkey came into this game knowing they were eliminated, and were playing for pride.
Turkey produced the first real chance of the game in the 17th minute when Orhan played in Hami down the flank. Hami swung over a good cross but Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel was quick off his line and got to the ball before Hakan could get any contact.
Two minutes later, the Turks were on the attack again when Alpay Ozalan strode out of the back in possession and fed Orhan, the midfield produced a neat turn on the edge of the area before his shot was tipped over the bar by Schmeichel.
The game continued goalless but Denmark gained more of an attacking foothold as the game progressed. Bo Andersen served as a central target man while Brian Laudrup picked up the ball in many different areas, coming both deep and wide to both flanks, causing a lot of confusion within the Turskish backline as to who was marking him at any given point.
A defensive error produced denmark with a big chance in the 32nd minute, when a long diagonal ball forward from Nielsen was chested back to his goalkeeper by Recep Citin. The under-hit back pass was seized upon by Brian Laudrup but Rustu Recber was quick off his line to make the save.
As half time closed in, Turkey went close to opening the scoring. A 41st minute corner was floated directly to the foot of Abdullah Ercan 20 yards out, and the wingback was inches away from scoring what would have been one of the goals of the tournament when his thunderous volley went inches wide.
Denmark would have the final chance of the half when Nielsen’s deflected shot from the edge of the area was parried by Rustu, Brian Ladrup was first to the rebound but blazed his finish over the bar from short range. Turkish keeper Rutu stayed down and required treatment, but would be declared fit to continue the game.
At the half time interval, Portugal had doubled their lead in Sheffield when Joao Pinto scored against Croatia. This meant that this game would be devoid of any qualification related drama barring a mathematical miracle during the second half.
Denmark coach Moller Nielsen replaced Michael Schjonberg with Henrik Larsen at the interval, while Turkish counterpart Terim subbed on Arif Erdem for the disappointing Hakan. After leading the team with 7 goals during qualification, star forward Hakan would finish this tournament without a goal.
Turkey fired the first shot of the second half, when Hami drove forward on the counter, but fired wide of the target after reaching the edge of the Danish penalty area.
Denmark would take the lead on their next possession, when Thomas Helveg launched a high ball forward to Bo Andersen. The striker won the flick on and Brian Laudrup latched onto the ball before taking a touch round Rustu and rolling it into the empty net.
With their tails now up, the Danes were back on the attack a minute later when a Brian Laudrup cross was met at the back post by Larsen, but deflected behind for a corner kick. The resulting corner was met by the head of Marc Rieper, but he was denied by a good save from Rustu.
In the 53rd minute, the Danish momentum continued when Michael Laudrup played Nielsen in behind with a neat through ball, only for the midfielder to fire over the bar. Alpay would remain down in need of treatment as the pressure was starting to show on the Turkey defense.
Abdullah produced some respite for Turkey when the winger cut inside to play a neat one-two with Alpay before being dragged down outside the area, with Hami firing wide from the resulting free kick. Abdullah was a rare bright spot for Turkey all tournament, and contributed at both ends of the field throughout this game. The wingback was able to cut inside centrally as well as possessing well out wide, and showed good defensive work ethic tracking opposite number Helveg.
Denmark were quickly threatened at the other end when Brian Laudrup was played in behind by Claus Thomsen, Rustu came off his line and forced a heavy touch that made the angle too tight to shoot. Laudrup ended up crossing over everyone and the chance died. Soon after, Steen Nielsen played in Brian Laudrup again and a neat backheel found Rieper who fired a shot into the side netting.
The halftime worlds from Moller Nielsen had produced what was becoming a thoroughly dominant second half performance from the Danes, and they received an indirect free kick inside the box in the 69th minute. Michael Laudrup touched the ball before Bo Andersen crashed a shot into the wall.
Turkish coach Terim did his best to stem the flow in the 68th minute, subbing on Saffet and Bulent Korkmaz for Recep and Orhan.
The changes did little to alter the Danish onslaught though and the lead was doubled to 2-0 in the 69th minute. Steen Nielsen got to the ball before the Turkish defenders and dropped a pass back to Laudrup, who split the Turkish backline with a precise one touch through ball. Nielsen raced in behind and crashed his shot past Rustu.
Meanwhile, the 2-0 held by Portugal over Croatia was proving unfortunate, as Denamark looked like they could have otherwise had a chance of overturning the four goal differential that had seemed such a long shot before kickoff if Portugal had in fact lost.
Turkey continued to fight and in the 78th minute Hami wa splayed in behind by Abdullah, only to fire into the side netting from a tight angle.
As was becoming the pattern of the game, a Turkish chance would be followed by Denmark going up the other end to create one themselves. Michael Laudrup drove forward, sucking in a defender before releasing Bo Andersen in behind, but Rustu was quick off his line to smother the attack and save at the strikers feet.
In the 81st minute, Turkey thought they had brought the game back to life with a sweeping counterattack goal. Abdullah was fed the ball on the halfway line and drove forward before releasing Arif down the right flank, his pinpoint cross was bundled home by Saffet, only for the celebrations to be cut short by the linesman’s flag. Replays showed Saffet to be just offside, in a knife edge decision.
As the Turks kept going forward, they were awarded a shooting range free kick when Larsen clumsily fouled Arif on the edge of the area. Abdullah stepped up but curled his free kick over the wall and wide of the goal. Turkey received another free kick in a similar position just minutes later, when a backtracking Steen Nielsen fouled Saffet. This time Hami took the kick but his hard, low effort was saved by Schmeichel.
Denmark finally killed the game off in the 85th minute with a move that involved both Laudrup brothers. Michael Laudrup collected the ball around halfway and drove forward before feeding Bo Andersen, the striker took a touch before playing a neat through ball. Brian Laudrup collected and took a touch before finishing to round off a convincing 3-0 scoreline.
In the final play of the game deep in injury time, Turkish goalkeeper received a bizarre booking. Schmeichel’s punt from the other end carried the full length of the field, and Rustu used his hand well outside of his penalty area to stop substitute Soren Andersen advancing onto an open goal. Rustu was fortunate to receive only a yellow card, and Brian Laudrup’s resulting free kick was deflected out of play.
Denmark will have been pleased to end on such an emphatic victory, but were also left wondering what could have been. Finding a winner in their opening 1-1 draw with eventual group winners Portugal could have seen them into the last eight? Or if Croatia coach Miroslav Blazevic had played his full strength side, would the Portuguese have suffered the defeat Denmark needed? We would never know, and the defending champions would bow out in the group stages despite Brian Laudrup being one of the stars of the tournament’s group stages.
Turkey will have been bitterly disappointed with their campaign, finishing goalless, winless and pointless. WIngback Abdullah produced some strong performances, but star striker Hakan had a quiet tournament and the Turks simply did not produce enough quality to threaten the top two spots in the standings.
50’ DEN Brian Laudrup (Erik Bo Andersen) 1-0
69’ DEN Allan Nielsen (Michael Laudrup) 2-0
84’ DEN Brian Laudrup (Erik Bo Andersen) 3-0
MAN OF THE MATCH
CF Brian Laudrup (Denmark) – The star forward produced a magnificent performance, picking up the ball all over the field, stretching the Turskish backline and capping off a thoroughly impressive display with two goals.
3: CF Brian Laudrup – Man of the Match.
2: CF Erik Bo Andersen – The target striker was a dominant presence both on the ground and in the air. This was demonstrated by him registering assists via both a headed flick on and a neat, defense splitting pass.
1: CM Michael Laudrup – Picked up the ball between Turkish lines consistently and provided the front two with quality service all game. Assisted the second goal with a quality, one touch through ball.
3: LM Abdullah Ercan – Yet another all action performance from Turkey’s most impressive player in the tournament. Abdullah picked up the ball in both wide and central positions, managing to keep possession and start attacks from both. Also defended well and showed high work ethic while tracking back.
2: CF Hami Mandirali – A thorn in the side of the Danish defense, Hami showed energetic movement and a shoot on sight mindset while leading the Turkish attack.
1: CM Tugay Kerimoglu – Showed some neat touches and connected passes consistently in a tough day for the Turkish midfield.