The Peruvians are here. Let the party begin.
That was what the noise coming from the stands in the Mordovia Arena suggested, such was the passion of the travelling Peruvians. And they began in style, with a style of high energy football that took the game to the Danish.
However, Denmark eventually settled into the game and slowly sucked the soul out of Peru, quelling their early energy and developing a rhythm of their own.
Christian Cueva blasted Peru’s best chance of the game over the bar after they were awarded a penalty through VAR, before Yussuf Poulsen put Denmark ahead – against the run of play – from Christian Eriksen’s weighted pass.
KEY STAT: Eriksen has now been involved in 17 goals in his last 14 internationals.
Peru had more than their fair share of chances, notably Kasper Schmeichel making a great save from Jefferson Farfan late on, but even the appearance of all-time leading goal scorer Paolo Guerrero couldn’t rescue a draw.
1 Peru have come to play
Peru haven't simply come to make up the numbers, no. They're here to play.
As a country making their first World Cup appearance for 36 years, it's no easy feat going toe-to-toe with Denmark, a fairly established nation on the international stage.
However, the difference between Peru and others of their stature - such as Iceland - is that they're not a side focussed on defensive organisation. They were solid, mind, and energetic in their pressing of Danish attackers, denying them time on the ball.
However, they displayed a consistent attacking threat both on the front foot and the break, deploying some pre-rehearsed routines.
Whilst taking shots on from all areas of the pitch isn't the best strategy, it's refreshing to see a nation small in stature attempt to take the game to their opponents.
Despite missing a penalty, Peru refused to lay down and admit defeat. Maybe they were a little too over-enthusiastic at times, but the positivity is admirable.
2 Have Watford overlooked Andre Carrillo?
Making just 16 Premier League starts for Watford - with one goal and two assists to his name -, Andre Carrillo was an inconsistent player at best for the Hornets and found himself in and out of the team.
However, he was Peru's best player against Denmark.
Carrillo's game by numbers:
- 54 touches
- 39 passes
- 5 dribbles
- 1 shot on target
Operating down the right flank, Carrillo was a constant problem for Jens Larsen and played a lovely through ball in to Jefferson Farfan for the Peruvians' first real sniff of goal in the first half, as well as a great cutback into the striker that was saved by Schmeichel.
Carrillo had a level of confidence to inspire his teammates, taking players on and exerting his individuality on the game. He was smart in his passing into Farfan and likewise with his movement around the striker.
A really bright spark.
3 VAR works, but it's just a safety net
This World Cup is quickly turning into the VAR Cup.
Peru's penalty, ultimately missed by Christian Cueva, was the fourth awarded today in just the third match. Antoine Griezmann and Mile Jedinak scored from the spot in France's win over Australia, whilst Lionel Messi missed against Iceland.
KEY STAT: Since 1966, only once has there been a single day with more penalties given (6 - 24th June 1998).
Despite initially waving play on, referee Bakary Gassama consulted the VAR and awarded the penalty after watching a replay. Play was only momentarily halted and the correct decision was made, demonstrating the effectiveness of the system.
However, VAR is ultimately a safety net for when the wrong decision is made, and it shouldn't inhibit referees from making these calls originally. Gassama surely could see a foul in the box, but seemed hesitant to make a call given that VAR would bail him out.
VARs are there to assist, not to be relied on solely.
4 A tale of two cities*
Whilst Peru seemed to capture the hearts of every spectator with their exciting style of football, Denmark were extremely lacklustre in their efforts, with three shots on target and 47% of possession.
However, the difference is that Peru failed to capitalise on an array of chances - despite having double the number of shots on target - epitomised by Cueva's penalty miss. Truthfully, they should have been the ones celebrating at the final whistle.
Denmark, by contrast, took what little came their way.
Completely against the run of play, but Eriksen did what he does best and played a delightfully weighted pass into the path of Poulsen, who finished past Pedro Gallese.
Football isn't about who deserves what, it's about who's more clinical. Peru may have deserved to win, but the Danish were ruthless.
5 Group, set and match
With both France and Denmark winning today, Group C has become a lot more of a closed case.
Both Australia and Peru were unfortunate receptors of defeats, but the fact of the matter is that it's going to be tough to qualify from this position. Peru will likely have to beat Australia - which they're capable of - and France, a different kettle of fish entirely.
The only way Peru can qualify with four points is if Denmark and Australia draw when they play, provided the Danish also lose to France. That's not even factoring an Australia victory into the equation.
The point is that Peru are now relying too much on other results going their way, whilst Denmark's future is in their hands.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?