Copenhagen (AFP) – Denmark extended their perfect start to the World Cup qualifying campaign as Daniel Wass and Joakim Maehle netted in quick succession in a 2-0 win against Scotland on Wednesday.
Kasper Hjulmand’s side killed off the Scots with two goals in two minutes at the Parken Stadium.
Euro 2020 semi-finalists Denmark have a 100 percent record after four games and the Group F leaders look odds-on to reach the World Cup in Qatar next year.
Scotland had already dropped points in draws against Israel and Austria and a first defeat in the group stage leaves Steve Clarke’s men in fourth place in the group.
They now have little margin for error as they try to qualify for their first World Cup since 1998.
After the disappointment of their underwhelming Euro 2020 campaign, Scotland must rebound in qualifiers against Moldova and Austria over the next few days.
“They blew us away a little bit with the intensity of their start. Conceding two goals in quick succession made it a long night for us,” Clarke said.
“We defended too deep. We weren’t brave enough in the backline. When you lose there aren’t too many positives.
“We have to go away, recover well and get three points at Hampden on Saturday.”
Denmark manager Hjulmand had lost seven of the squad he originally selected for the qualifiers, with Martin Braithwaite, Kasper Dolberg and Jannik Vestergaard among the absentees.
Those three all started Denmark’s heartbreaking Euro semi-final loss to England at Wembley in July.
But Clarke travelled with an equally reduced squad due to injuries and Covid-19 issues.
Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson was deployed as a right wing-back rather than his usual left-sided berth.
Denmark took advantage of Scotland’s makeshift line-up in a blistering start.
Scotland defender Kieran Tierney was caught out when a deep cross left him flat-footed as Valencia’s Wass headed home in the 14th minute.
Less than two minutes later, Atalanta defender Maehle slotted a composed finish past Craig Gordon from close range after working a deft one-two with Mikkel Damsgaard.
“We had to weather the storm and we didn’t do that well enough,” Scotland captain Robertson said.
“We kept inviting pressure. We had a crazy five minutes and conceded two goals.”
With Scotland giving the ball away time and again, Denmark kept pressing in a bid to put the result beyond doubt.
Gordon saved Yussuf Poulsen’s strike after the lacklustre Scots failed to deal with a routine free-kick.
Scotland were unable to muster a single shot in the first half and Clarke sent on QPR striker Lyndon Dykes for defender Scott McKenna at the interval.
Billy Gilmour’s drive flashed narrowly wide early in the second half, but Denmark remained the dominant force.
Thomas Delaney’s blast was repelled by Gordon, who did well to smother at Poulsen’s feet from the rebound.
Ryan Fraser came closest to getting Scotland back into contention when his low strike from 12 yards forced a superb save from Kasper Schmeichel.