TUCSON, Ariz. - Teenage striker Andreas Cornelius scored three goals as Denmark took advantage of sloppy defending to easily defeat a young, outmatched Canadian side 4-0 in a soccer friendly Saturday afternoon.
The game was the first for the Canadian men since they crashed out of World Cup qualifying via a humiliating 8-1 loss last October in Honduras.
Kasper Lorentzen also scored for Danes, who were missing many of their top players and yet still enjoyed a stroll in the park.
Down 2-0 after 11 minutes, things looked ripe for another spanking against a poised Danish side that exploited a leaky Canadian defence. It was 3-0 at the half and could have been worse had it not been for the acrobatics of goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld, who was perhaps mercifully subbed after 45 minutes.
Hirschfeld, a fine 'keeper who deserves better, has now given up 11 goals in his last 135 minutes playing for the national team.
For Colin Miller, it was his fourth straight loss as interim Canada coach — all against quality sides. In 2003, when he bridged the gap between Holger Osieck and Frank Yallop, he lost to the Czech Republic, Finland and Ireland.
Denmark is ranked 23rd in the world while Canada is 64th.
But those numbers didn't mean much on the day. Both teams fielded young sides, given the game did not fall on a FIFA international date. Canada's starting 11 featured just three players — Hirschfeld, midfielder Nik Ledgerwood and striker Tosaint Ricketts — who started in Honduras.
Miller gave six players their first caps at the senior level.
The matchup was a massive ask for a raw Canadian squad that had only 193 caps in total, with striker Dwayne De Rosario (71) and Hirschfeld (45) accounting for more than 60 per cent of those.
The Canadians have had little time together and it showed. And the Danes were motivated, with many looking to impress manager Morton Olsen and play their way onto the World Cup qualifying team.
Olsen subbed three players at the half, including veteran Dennis Rommedahl, who had his way down the flank in the opening going.
Simon Thomas came in for Hirschfeld in the Canadian goal to start the second half and earn his debut cap. He was almost beaten from the get-go, but Cornelius, taking advantage of a Canadian error, chipped the ball just over.
The game was played before a sparse crowd of 3,402 at the 11,500-seat Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium, a baseball park that is home to the Pacific Coast League's Tucson Padres. It made for a quiet afternoon, with almost no crowd noise.
The field did not draw rave reviews, and one corner was like a bog after a morning torrential downpour. There was a tarp covering the field, but the water apparently leaked as it was rolled up.
As in Honduras, Canada missed a good early scoring chance when fallback Ashtone Morgan motored down the left wing and sent in a cross. Ledgerwood could not get his head on it and De Rosario's ensuing shot was deflected.
Canada looked leaky defensively down the left flank and the Danes took advantage in the eighth minute when Rommedahl floated a cross to Cornelius, who headed the ball into the far side of the goal.
Three minutes later, Lorentzen slotted home a through ball to make it 2-0 as the Canadian defence was cut wide open.
It could have been 3-0 in the 22nd minute but Hirschfeld got a foot to the ball as the Danes sliced through the backline again.
Cornelius scored again in the 35th on a goalmouth scramble, knocking home the ball after a header hit the crossbar off corner. The 19-year-old FC Copenhagen striker is joint top scorer in the Danish league with 14 goals in 20 matches.
Time and again, the Danes attacked Canada's left flank with winger Russell Teibert often caught too far infield. Hirschfeld made a good save late in the half after Rommedahl outpaced a pair of Canadian defenders.
Thomas was called on early in the second half, stopping Danish sub Kasper Kusk from close range.
Canada looked slightly more composed in the second half but were outclassed by a Danish side comfortable on the ball — and seemingly content to go into cruise control. But the giveaways continued and Cornelius got his hat trick in the 66th minute.
There was a rare attempt at goal for Canada when Ricketts forced a save by the Danish 'keeper.
Miller started Hirschfeld behind a backline of Ashtone Morgan, Dejan Jakovic, Nana Attakora, Doneil Henry. Ledgerwood and Teibert were on the wings with Kyle Bekker and captain Terry, Dunfield in central midfield. De Rosario played up front in a slightly withdrawn role behind Ricketts.
Dunfield, who won his 11th cap, wore the captain's armband for the first time for his country. But the scrappy midfielder is very much Miller's type of player. Ledgerwood also became skipper for the first time when Dunfield was subbed in the second half.
Becker, drafted third overall in the MLS SuperDraft earlier this month by Toronto FC, won his first cap. And it was a first start for Teibert and Attakora.
Evan James, Kyle Porter, Philippe Davies and Mason Trafford, coming on as second-half substitutes, also won their first caps.
De Rosario's 60 minutes moves him into fifth place all-time for minutes played on the Canadian team. He moved past Miller.
The Danish starting 11 featured just three players — Michael Silberbauer, Lars Jacobsen and Rommedahl who started in Denmark's last World Cup qualifying game, a 3-1 loss to 10-man Italy last October. Lorentzen, Jores Okore, Casper Sloth, and Steffen Rasmussen were on the bench against Italy but started against Canada.
The average starting age for both teams was exactly the same, 26.27391, according to the Canadian Soccer Association.
Canada heads to Houston next for a game Tuesday against the U.S. Denmark travels to Phoenix to meet Mexico on Wednesday.
NOTES — Tickets for Saturday's game cost US18, $22 and $25 ... Playing Rush before the game was a nice nod to the Great White North. The DJ did his bit for Denmark by playing a song by the Swedish House Mafia.