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Denmark seal Tirana triumph

Saturday, 9 October 2004

By Peter Bruun

[1] Albania's three-year home unbeaten run came to an end in Tirana as Denmark continued their record of not losing any major away qualifiers since 1997.

Denmark climb

[2] Martin Jørgensen broke the deadlock on 52 minutes and Jon Dahl Tomasson struck later in the half to lift Denmark up to joint third place with Georgia in FIFA World Cup qualifying Group 4. Albania were a threat from the start, though, inspired by playmaker Erwin Skela.

Magnificent save

[3] However, the home side did not eke out any clear scoring opportunities in the first period, and it was Denmark who had the only real chance in the opening half. Henrik Pedersen's turned a cross from Jørgensen towards goal only for Albanian goalkeeper Fotis Strakosha to produce a magnificent save.

Visitors ahead

[4] Pedersen was withdrawn for winger Dennis Rommedahl at the break, and the substitute added pace to the Danish attack, who had by far the better of the second half. Seven minutes from the interval Jørgensen took a chance from outside the area and a deflection left Strakosha out of position as the ball flew into the opposite side of the goal.

Lead doubles

[5] The home side now had to press for an equaliser and on 67 minutes a left-footed shot from Igli Tare hit the post. But four minutes later Denmark were 2-0 up, as Jesper Grønkjær found Tomasson with a fine pass into the area and the AC Milan striker placed the ball past Strakosha at the near post from close range.

Victory sealed

[6] Despite some desperate Albania pressure in the final stages, Denmark's clean sheet was assured when Christian Poulsen cleared the ball off the line after a corner. Denmark welcome group leaders Turkey to Copenhagen on Wednesday - with only one point separating the teams - while fifth-placed Albania travel to bottom side Kazakhstan.

Albania's Altin Haxhi tries to hold off Brian Priske of Denmark