LVIV – Portugal’s Silvestre Varela scored a dramatic 87th-winner to give his side a 3-2 win over Denmark in a pulsating Euro 2012 Group B match Wednesday.
Portugal looked to have thrown a two-goal lead away when Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner scored the second of two close-range headers to equalize in the 80th minute.
But Varela gave the Portuguese the win they badly needed when he smashed home from close range.
Portugal had taken a 2-0 lead in the first half after good work by Nani. Defender Pepe lost his marker from a corner and powered a header past keeper Stephan Andersen in the 24th minute.
It doubled the lead in the 36th minute when striker Helder Postiga got in front of defender Simon Kjaer far too easily to turn home a Nani pass from close range.
It was a bad moment for Kjaer, who had boasted Denmark would be able to contain winger Cristiano Ronaldo, and he had to make a desperate clearance in the 44th minute to stop Nani setting up another goal.
Bendtner scored his first in the 41st minute, nodding home after Michael Krohn-Dehli sent a looping header over keeper Rui Patricio. The goals were his fourth and fifth in four competitive games against Portugal.
The result means Denmark and Portugal both have three points with one game left.
Ronaldo had another poor game and missed two good chances.
Denmark has a good recent record against Portugal but looked largely toothless and it was little surprise when Portugal, who had lost three consecutive European Championship games, took the lead.
Pepe was its best player in the 1-0 defeat by Germany last Saturday and looked good again.
The Danes, who had defended brilliantly in their opening 1-0 win over the Dutch, were not helped by the loss of midfielder Niki Zimling and winger Dennis Rommedahl to injury.
The Poland-Russia match ended in a thrilling 1-1 draw Tuesday.
Poland skipper Jakub Blaszczykowski equalized after 57 minutes with an unstoppable shot to earn the co-hosts a second consecutive draw which means they will reach the quarterfinals if they beat the Czech Republic in their final Group A game.
Earlier, Alan Dzagoyev’s 37th-minute header had looked set to send the Russians through with two wins out of two. Russia tops Group A with four points.
Russia fined, facing tough sanction over fans
Russia was Wednesday facing a potential six-point deduction from its next European championship qualifying campaign, after UEFA imposed a suspended punishment for its fans’ behavior at Euro 2012.
European football’s governing body slapped a 120,000-euro ($150,000, 96,000-pound) fine on the Football Union of Russia (RFS) after supporters set off and threw fireworks during the Group A opener with the Czech Republic last Friday. Police are also hunting Russian fans who attacked four volunteer stadium stewards after the match in Wroclaw, southwest Poland.
UEFA initiated disciplinary proceedings over the incidents last week, as well as over the display of potentially inflammatory “Russian Empire” flags at the ground. The flags can be deeply provocative in parts of Eastern Europe that used to be under Moscow’s thumb. — Agencies