World Cup qualifiers: Alberto Aquilani equalises late on as Italy draw 2-2 with Denmark
Last Updated: 11/10/13 10:37pm
Thiago Motta tries to catch Christian Eriksen.
Substitute Alberto Aquilani struck a last-gasp equaliser for Italy in the 2-2 draw against Denmark in Friday's World Cup Group B qualifier in Copenhagen.
Dani Osvaldo put the Azzurri ahead in the 28th minute before Nicklas Bendtner pulled the hosts level on the stroke of half-time and the Danes were then twice denied by the woodwork early in the second half before Bendtner put the hosts ahead with 12 minutes remaining.
However, Aquilani's close-range effort in the 90th minute earned pool winners Italy a point and left Denmark trailing second-placed Bulgaria - who earlier lost 2-1 in Armenia - on goal difference ahead of the final round of matches.
The visitors headed into the contest having already booked their place at next summer's showpiece tournament in Brazil, having assuring top place in the group.
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon became Italy's most capped player as he made his 137th appearance.
With AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli sidelined with the flu, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli opted to start with Southampton striker Osvaldo up front and it paid dividends.
Osvaldo sent a warning in the 21st minute when his right-footed shot flew just wide of the far post, and Italy took the lead soon after.
A fast break saw Thiago Motta pick out Osvaldo in the area and he got past Liverpool defender Daniel Agger before firing a right-footed shot past Denmark goalkeeper Stephan Andersen.
The hosts responded well, though, and restored parity in the 45th minute, when Bendtner got past his marker Federico Balzaretti and headed Michael Krohn-Dehli's cross past Buffon.
Marten Olsen's men looked to push on after the break, and Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen almost delivered when his direct free-kick beat Buffon but struck the right post.
Denmark could not believe their luck when they were again denied by the woodwork in the 67th minute.
Italy failed to clear a dangerous corner and the ball fell to Andreas Bjelland, whose 14-yard attempt rebounded off the crossbar.
Denmark were finally rewarded in the 78th minute, when Bendtner again jumped higher than Balzaretti and nodded Krohn-Dehli's cross past Buffon.
Italy had the last say, however, when Osvaldo's cross to the far post was met by Aquilani.
Denmark end their qualifying campaign against Malta in Copenhagen on Tuesday, while Italy host Armenia in their final game.
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Fri 11th Oct - Group B
Armenia2 - 1Bulgaria
Malta1 - 4Czech Rep
Denmark2 - 2Italy
Fri 11th Oct - Group G
Lithuania2 - 0Latvia
Bos & Herz4 - 1Liechtenstein
Greece1 - 0Slovakia
Fri 11th Oct - Group A
Croatia1 - 2Belgium
Wales1 - 0Macedonia
Fri 11th Oct - Group F
Azerbaijan2 - 0N Ireland
Luxembourg0 - 4Russia
Portugal1 - 1Israel
Fri 11th Oct - Group H
Moldova3 - 0San Marino
Ukraine1 - 0Poland
England4 - 1Montenegro
Fri 11th Oct - Group C
Faroe Islands1 - 1Kazakhstan
Sweden2 - 1Austria
Germany3 - 0Rep Ireland
Fri 11th Oct - Group E
Albania1 - 2Switzerland
Slovenia3 - 0Norway
Iceland2 - 0Cyprus
Fri 11th Oct - Group D
Holland8 - 1Hungary
Andorra0 - 4Romania
Estonia0 - 2Turkey
Fri 11th Oct - Group I
Spain2 - 1Belarus
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C
|4||Republic of Ireland||10||14|
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group E
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group G
|1||Bosnia and Herzegovina||10||25|
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I