World Cup qualifiers: Alberto Aquilani equalises late on as Italy draw 2-2 with Denmark
Alberto Aquilani struck an equaliser for Italy in the 2-2 draw against Denmark in Friday's World Cup Group B qualifier.
Last Updated: 11/10/13 10:37pm
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.