Denmark and Tunisia played to a scoreless draw in their opening World Cup game.
Buoyed by the overwhelming support of the crowd, and perhaps heartened by Saudi Arabia’s shocking upset of Argentina earlier in the day, Tunisia held its own against favored Denmark for much of the game.
Denmark had more of the ball, but Tunisia’s swarming defense, and a few ill-timed bad passes, frustrated its efforts.
Tunisia nearly scored in the 43rd minute when Issam Jebali got past the defense and found himself one-on-one with Denmark keeper Kasper Schmeichel. But Schmeichel got a hand on his chip. Earlier, Anis Ben Slimane of Tunisia eluded two defenders and put the ball in the net only to be ruled offside.
As the game wound down, Denmark became more threatening. A shot from Christian Eriksen of Denmark in the 69th minute was saved by Aymen Dahmen. A diving close-in header by Andreas Cornelius moments later failed to go in as well. A long-distance blast by Jesper Lindstrom in added time drew a leaping save from Dahmen.
Both teams could have used a win. With mighty France presumably getting one qualifying spot from Group D, these teams plus Australia are all fighting for the other.
You can’t talk about Denmark without talking about the incredible story of the attacking midfielder Eriksen. Only a year and a half ago, in a game against Finland at Euro 2020, Eriksen sustained a cardiac arrest and was carried off the field. The moment was so terrifying that there was a great debate about whether the game should even have continued (it did). Amazingly, less than a year later Eriksen was back as a key player with the Denmark team. He started the game on Tuesday and took Denmark’s corners. He took over as captain when Simon Kjaer was substituted in the second half.