Saransk (Russia) (AFP) – Kasper Schmeichel — son of former Manchester United goalkeeping legend Peter — was showered with praise after his acrobatic display helped earn Denmark a 1-0 over Peru on Saturday to get their World Cup off to a flying start.
Denmark’s Yussuf Poulsen redeemed himself with the winning goal in Saransk after conceding a first-half penalty, awarded by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, which Christian Cueva blasted over the crossbar.
However Denmark have the next-generation Schmeichel guarding their goal.
The 31-year-old Leicester City shot-stopper pulled off a string of saves to deny Peru’s attack and especially Paolo Guerrero, who went close after coming on for the final 30 minutes.
“He is acrobatic, he’s fast on his feet and his goal-line play is probably one of the best in the world, that is his strength,” Denmark coach Age Hareide said of Schmeichel.
“He had a fantastic performance, they threw people forward including their star striker (Guerrero), so you have to acknowledge his performance.”
Schmeichel’s heroics and Poulsen’s finishing mean Denmark extended their unbeaten run to 16 games and ended Peru’s 15-match streak without defeat.
“This is our fifth game without conceding a goal, it’s very hard to do that, especially at a World Cup game,” added Hareide.
“They got very little out of this game, they probably deserved more, but that’s football.”
After the World Cup’s first ever VAR penalty was given for France in their 2-1 win over Australia earlier Saturday, Peru got one in the third game of the day, but wasted it horribly.
Denmark’s Norwegian coach said he had no problem with the VAR awarding a penalty against his team after the referee initially missed Poulsen clipping the boot of Cueva.
“The VAR system is there to make things fair, there has been a lot of discussion about the interuptions, but here it worked out well,” added Hareide.
“If affected us, but it makes life easier for the referees to make the right decision, so it’s okay.
The Danes face Australia next, in Samara on Thursday, but they face the blow of losing midfielder William Kvist for the rest of the tournament after he had to leave the Peru game early.
“We think it’s a fractured rib, looking at the symptoms,” Hareide said.
“We will be down to 22 players if Kvist is out.”