Denmark coach Age Hareide said his team did what needed to be done to earn a point in a lacklustre 0-0 draw with Group C winners France on Tuesday and advance to the World Cup Round of 16.
It was the first goalless draw after 36 matches at the World Cup, with neither France nor Denmark even remotely interested in attacking as the point suited both and left Australia, who lost to Peru in the other game, out of contention for a top-two finish.
“We just needed one point, right?,” Hareide said. “We were up against one of the best counter-attacking teams in the world. We would have been stupid if we opened up. We played to get the result and we did it.”
Fans from both sides started whistling and jeering as the game drew to a disappointing close.
“You need to do what you need to do but for the team this has been wonderful. Our goal was to come here and to progress to last 16,” Hareide said.
France were already assured qualification but wanted to go through in top spot to avoid a likely last-16 clash with in-form Croatia while Denmark will play the runner-up of Group D, which also includes Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland.
“We had a tough group, one of the toughest I believe. The team that got three points [and did not qualify], Peru, played the best football,” Hareide said. “We sacrificed everything to get the point and take us to the next level.”
Denmark could have only been denied qualification had they lost to France and had Australia beaten Peru in the match being simultaneously played in Sochi.
The Danes are now likely to face Croatia, who are leading Group D and play Iceland later on Tuesday.
“They are really very good, really, really good,” Hareide said of the Croats, who have beaten Argentina and Nigeria in their two group matches so far.
“They are a really, really good team. They look strong. We have taken a look at Croatia. We have seen them play and they are very strong.”