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Miller: Canadians “gave away” easy goals to Denmark

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Despite having ample time to players and fans alike get prepared for what was expected to be a long day for the Canadian men’s soccer team, it was still difficult to at times as they stumbled to a 4-0 loss to Denmark Saturday at the Kino Veterans’ Memorial Stadium in Tucson, Ariz.

Andreas Cornelius scored twice in the first half and added another in the second to complete his hat-trick to lead the Danish attack while Kasper Laurentzen contributed with a goal as well. While the Danish movement and attacked flowed easily, the Canadian defending was guilty in gifting the Danish goals.

“We’re disappointed certainly in the manner of the goals that we gave away,” said interim head coach Colin Miller. “There were aspects of the game that we were pleased with. We corrected one or two things at halftime. You can’t give players at this level of football as much time as we gave them in the first half and that was clearly evident.”

It was the Canadians who had the best chance just a few minutes after kickoff as Doneil Henry’s cross missed Tosaint Ricketts and a diving Nik Ledgerwood before ending up on the boot of Dwayne De Rosario — but DeRo’s shot was blocked for a corner.

After that the onslaught began and the first goal was created largely from the Danish right side that was a problem area for Canada all day long.

Veteran Dennis Rommedahl launched in a cross in the eighth minute from that right side that Cornelius rose well to head back across goal and in but the Canadian defending gave just too much space and, not for the first time, the Danish made them pay.

Three minutes later Laurentzen was got in on the action when he found himself in space and was played in alone on Canadian goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld. Laurentzen had plenty of time to see that he was all alone and slot home Denmark’s second.

“One chance down in our end and it was a goal and it was too easy,” said De Rosario. “One goal you can’t get your head down. You have to stay focussed. It’s a learning experience for the guys in the back.”

From there, the pace took a step back but there was always the feeling the Denmark could grab the game by the throat almost at its leisure.

It wasn’t until there were 10 minutes remaining in the first half that Cornelius got his second and Denmark’s third and once again he took advantage from Canadian defensive lapses.

At just 19, Cornelius has largely come out of nowhere to be joint top scorer in the Danish Superliga and, given the chance, strikers on form can be ruthless.

After a shot came back off the bar and a brief scramble in the Canadian box, Cornelius was there to strike the ball into the left corner and for those members of the team who played in Canada’s last game—visions of San Pedro Sula must certainly have been flashing back.

“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Denmark. They were very good on the day,” said team captain Terry Dunfield. “I think the most important thing is the players learn from this and hopefully come Tuesday (against the United States) we don’t make the same mistakes.”

While Rommedahl’s departure from the game at halftime headlined a trip of Danish substitutions, the only Canadian change was made was in goal with Simon Thomas coming in for Lars Hirschfeld. Thomas looked good early on before Cornelius’ third of the game in the 66th minute capped off the scoring.

To Canada’s credit, they did create some openings in the offensive third with Russell Teibert and Ricketts getting cracks at goal but against a quality Danish team that is still largely in midseason form and—unlike the Canadians—all playing with club teams, it was always going to be a difficult afternoon.

That said, this is the time to make mistakes and this is the time for learning.

“We probably have five or six years to get it right,” said Dunfield. “So we’re at the beginning of the cycle right now. Players are getting opportunities and it’s up to them to take it.”

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