Denmark 1 England 2: Eriksen overshadows Wilshere but England ultimately prevail

Darren Bent and Ashley Young were both on the mark to ensure England enjoyed a wonderful night in Copenhagen even though Jack Wilshere was not able to match his impressive billing.

Maybe expectations surrounding Wilshere were too great.

The Arsenal teenager was confident in possession, enough to show he has a fine future ahead of him.

He does look ill-suited to the midfield holding role, though, and his contribution paled alongside that of fellow youngster Christian Eriksen.

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However, Wilshere still finished on the winning side after Bent levelled Daniel Agger’s opener, meaning Young’s first international goal midway through the second half was a winning one.

But, thanks to coach Fabio Capello’s pre-match comments, England’s support had come to anoint a young man born on the first day of 1992, hailed by his manager 24 hours earlier as having the potential to emulate legendary figures such as Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini and Raul.

Instead, the first-half show was stolen by a player born six weeks later, someone the Danes like to acclaim as the new Michael Laudrup.

Eriksen is a familiar-sounding name in English football, and it is clear supporters are going to be hearing a lot more about this particular version, Christian.

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The youngest player to be named in any of the 32 World Cup squads, Eriksen caused devastation in front of an England back-four Wilshere was supposed to be shielding.

His efficiency of movement allowed the Ajax player to find space with unerring regularity, from which he tended to leave the England defence anxious and despairing in equal measure.

Eriksen created an early opportunity for Nicklas Bendtner, had a shot deflected wide by Frank Lampard and slammed a quite brilliant effort against the base of Joe Hart’s left-hand post.

It was hardly a surprise Eriksen should claim the assist for Denmark’s early opener, too.

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As this was a warm-up for next month’s Euro 2012 qualifier with Wales, Capello could not have been happy with the ease with which Denmark opened the scoring.

Eriksen’s curling cross was difficult to defend. Nevertheless, Lampard and John Terry would be disappointed Agger had so much space to steer the ball beyond Hart’s despairing grasp with an athletic diving header. England did well to get themselves back on terms so quickly.

Capello had already acknowledged the work Rooney has done at Manchester United this season creating opportunities for others.

It was Rooney’s excellent pass that offered Theo Walcott the room to run, crossing low to the far post for Bent to tap home his second international goal.

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Bent had a second ‘goal’ disallowed for offside shortly before the interval, although had it been given it would have been tough luck on the Danes given England’s only other chance of note was Rooney’s effort that Mathias Jorgensen booted off the line when the game was still goalless.

Capello made half of his six changes at the break, including the withdrawal of both Wilshere and Lampard, the latter like his midfield partner having not made a significant contribution, and Scott Parker made his long-awaited re-appearance after an international absence of almost four and a half years; the first player to win his first four England caps while with four different clubs.

It also led to Ashley Cole taking the captain’s armband as he won his 87th cap, a record for a full-back, completing a remarkable few days for the 30-year-old, who was named England’s player of 2010 on Monday.

Eriksen looks as though he will be named Denmark’s equivalent on a few occasions. Although the second half was largely a sterile affair, Eriksen provided a moment of genius as he checked inside Glen Johnson and cut into the box. Fortunately for England, the cross did not match his earlier work.

Of those in white, Bent was impressive.

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He could not get the ball into the Denmark net when he went face to face with Thomas Sorensen in an attempt to reach Young’s cross before racing on to James Milner’s through ball and blasting narrowly wide.

And it was Young who got the second, striding through confidently after Johnson had won possession just inside the Denmark half, then beating Sorensen with a neat, low finish.

It was the Aston Villa man’s first international goal and the highlight of a decent display for Young, a direct replacement for Rooney and whose elusiveness makes him quite effective in the hole, as his club manager Gerard Houllier has already discovered.

Young’s contribution enabled England to complete their first win in Scandinavia in nine attempts since 1992, just after Wilshere and Eriksen were born.

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Wales do not offer the same threat but the same result in Cardiff on March 26 will do nicely when the challenge to reach Euro 2012 begins again.

Denmark: Sorensen, Christian Poulsen, Jorgensen (Kjaer 46), Agger, Simon Poulsen (Wass 46), Jacobsen (Silberbauer 60), Kvist (Vingaard 89), Eriksen, Krohn-Delhi (Pedersen 70), Rommedahl, Bendtner. Unused substitutes: Lindegaard, Schone, Junker, Lorentzen, Enevoldsen, Pedersen.

England: Hart, Johnson, Dawson (Cahill 60), Terry, Ashley Cole (Baines 81), Lampard (Parker 46), Wilshere (Barry 46), Walcott (Downing 68), Rooney (Young 46), Milner, Bent. Unused substitutes: Green, Walker, Lescott, Defoe, Carlton Cole, Stockdale.

Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden).