No matter what happens in Wednesday's late game, the final day of Group B play is going to mean something. Portugal took a commanding lead on Denmark in their match on Wednesday evening, then proceeded to throw it away and win it right back in a matter of minutes. In what was almost certainly the most dramatic match of the tournament thus far, the Portuguese managed to snag a late 3-2 win to keep themselves alive in group play.
They got off to a brilliant start with two first half goals as Denmark struggled. Niki Zimling was forced out of the game with an injury and while Jakob Poulsen didn't make any glaring errors in the match, the drop-off in quality in Denmark's midfield was apparent throughout the match. Pepe scored the opener on a corner kick, which was followed by a Helder Postiga goal that gave Portugal a two-goal advantage after 36 minutes of play.
Denmark managed to create almost nothing in the first half, but they caught Portugal's back line napping just before the end of the half. Nicklas Bendtner, who scored against Portugal in the last meeting between the two teams, did it again in the 41st minute, hitting an empty net after Michael Krohn-Delhi redirected the ball across the box to set him up for a free header. Portugal should have gone into the half with a two-goal lead, but they gifted Denmark new life just before the break.
The first half featured a couple of missed chances by Cristiano Ronaldo, but his failings were truly the story of the second half until the very end of the match. He had one bad miss and he gave away possession on a couple of occasions in the first half, but he was truly dire in the second half. In the first five minutes of the half, he squandered a move with an errant touch and failed to make the most of another with a weak shot right at Stephan Andersen.
In the 78th minute, he managed to pull off one of the worst misses of his career. Nani put him through one-on-one with Andersen, but Ronaldo somehow managed to push his shot wide of the post. It was the perfect exclamation point on what felt like his worst performance since he was a teenager, but it would get worse two minutes later.
Not only was Ronaldo missing clear chances on the attacking end, but he also failed to track Denmark right back Lars Jacobsen throughout the match. Portugal paid for failing to account for him in the 80th minute when the Danes pulled off an impressive equalizer. Jacobsen set it up with a brilliant cross to the back post, and Bendtner rose up to nod the ball past Rui Patricio, making it 2-2 with his second of the game.
It appeared as if Denmark was going to escape with a draw from a match in which they were downright poor, but a substitute spoiled their day in the 87th minute. Just two minutes after he replaced Raul Meireles, Varela became a hero for Portugal with a game-winning goal. Fabio Coentrao set him up with a great cross into the box, and comically, Varela completely missed the ball on his first attempt. He spun around like a top, only to find that the ball bounced right to him for a second attempt. He made the most of his lucky second chance, hitting a powerful shot past Andersen at the near post from 10 yards to earn all three points for his team.
Portugal and Denmark don't yet know what they have to do against the Netherlands to go through to the next round, but it's possible that both of them could only need a draw to progress.