Scotland arrived here with just 16 outfield players, and at times it felt like they could have done with all of them on the pitch to repel the brilliant Danes.
Steve Clarke’s side were overwhelmed during two first-half minutes which brought two goals and, in turn, three points for the hosts, back at Parken for the first time since their Euro 2020 semi-final defeat by England.
This fixture always looked Scotland’s most difficult on paper when the draw was made. And so it transpired on grass.
Daniel Wass and Joakim Maehle netted quickfire double to maintain perfect start for hosts
Former Denmark star Brian Laudrup, here in the press box, had warned that the Scots would be up against not only 11 players but also the ‘emotional power’ of an entire nation. He was not wrong.
It was spine-tingling to be in the midst of the Danish crowd before kick-off as they provided a homecoming fit for heroes. You can drink Carlsberg in the stands here, and they’re certainly a thirsty bunch. But they are drunk more so on a newfound love for their national team.
It was in this stadium on June 12 that Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest during Denmark’s opening game of the Euros.
Daniel Wass jumped above Kieran Tierney to head in the opening goal in the 14th minute
But from the horror of that afternoon was born unity and an uplifting venture to the last four of the tournament.
Parken does not ordinarily sell out for qualifiers. The only spare seats this time were in the Scotland dugout, where injuries and Covid-19 had depleted their number.
Not that it mattered. You could have had a prime Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness and it still wouldn’t have been a match for the Danes during a blistering opening that won the game.
Their first goal came on 14 minutes. Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney looked like, well, an Arsenal defender as he lost both the flight of the ball and his man at the far post.
Joakim Maehle slipped the ball through the legs of Craig Gordon to double their advantage
Daniel Wass, a wing-back who had never scored for his country, would not have had many chances like this and he punished the dozing Tierney with an easy nod beyond Craig Gordon.
You assumed the roar would stir Scotland from their slumber. Not so. The celebrations were only just petering out 60 seconds later when they were re-ignited.
Wing-back Joakim Maehle and forward Mikkel Damsgaard were two of the stars of the summer. They have kicked off autumn in pretty sensational form, too. Maehle back-heeled to Damsgaard and continued his run into the box. Damsgaard, a little magician in the mould of Eriksen, produced a scooped return to leave Scotland’s defence spellbound and Maehle poked through the legs of Gordon for a quite wonderful goal.
Billy Gilmour was the one positive for Clarke. The boss has said the midfielder will benefit from playing in a team such as Norwich this season, who have less of the ball and aren’t blessed with stars. Perhaps by that he meant it would ready him for life with Scotland.
Steve Clarke’s World Cup hopes were dealt a blow after his side were outclassed in Denmark