Leeds United man among those criticised by national press after 'partying' and surprise defeat
Leeds United defender Rasmus Kristensen, his Denmark teammates and national team coach Kasper Hjulmand were criticised by some sections of the Danish press after the team celebrated Euro 2024 qualification in Copenhagen before losing 2-0 against Northern Ireland.
The Scandinavian nation booked their place at next summer's European Championships earlier this month, topping their qualification group ahead of Slovenia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Northern Ireland and San Marino.
Victory over fellow Germany 2024 participants Slovenia last week confirmed Denmark's qualification as Group H winners. Head coach Hjulmand permitted the team to celebrate by enjoying the Danish capital's nightlife, before preparations began for their final, obsolete qualification fixture away to Northern Ireland.
A report in the Danish national press claimed: "It was all about party, colours and beer when the Danish national team secured their ticket to the European Championship next summer on Friday evening.
"After the victory over Slovenia, Kasper Hjulmand gave the players the green light to celebrate and the players went on a night out in the Copenhagen nightlife."
The Danes were subsequently beaten 2-0 by an injury-hit Northern Irish side at Windsor Park in Belfast a few days later, handing a third win in ten qualifying games to the country whose only previously Group H wins had come against minnows San Marino.
Hjulmand defended his decision to give the players an evening to celebrate, telling national outlet Bold.dk: "There are so few moments like that when you achieve a goal. We win the group. We're going to the European Championships. There are many who want to [interact] with us, so I think it's right that you get to enjoy such a qualification for a few hours.
"I don't see that that's the problem," the 51-year-old said.
Similarly, AS Roma defender Rasmus Kristensen, currently on loan from Leeds, said: "When you qualify for the European Championships, you have to be allowed to celebrate, and that's what we did.
"But it has nothing to do with our performance today. I don't feel that we lacked power or energy."
The Danish international defender played the full 90 minutes in Belfast and now returns to Rome where he will aim to work his way back into Jose Mourinho's starting line-up, having fallen out of contention in recent weeks. His contract at Elland Road, meanwhile, runs for another four years, meaning upon the expiry of his season-long Serie A loan, the 26-year-old could return to Thorp Arch after participating at Euro 2024 with Denmark.