Peru lost 1-0 to Denmark here Saturday in its first World Cup match in more than three decades, playing aggressively but failing to get on the scoreboard at Mordovia Arena.
The South Americans last played in soccer’s premier event in 1982, but their hopes of a triumphant return were spoiled due in large part to a missed penalty kick late in the first half.
The Peruvians came out in attack mode in the early going of this Group C match in Saransk and put Denmark on its heels.
That aggressive play led to Peru winning a penalty late in the first half on an attempted tackle by Yussuf Poulsen on Edison Flores.
The referee on the field initially allowed play to continue but then consulted with the video-assistant-referee (VAR) system, which awarded the penalty.
But the score remained tied at halftime after midfielder Christian Cueva badly botched his try from the 12-yard mark, sending the shot sailing high over the crossbar.
Denmark, which missed the last World Cup in Brazil but played in the tournament in South Africa in 2010, then showed off the experience it has gained in recent years on the international stage, weathering the Peruvian storm and then looking for chances on the break.
That patience paid off when it opened the scoring with a counter-attack goal in the 58th minute.
On the play, Poulsen received a pass from Christian Eriksen on the left side and slotted the ball home past charging net minder Pedro Gallese.
One of Peru’s best chances to equalize came just four minutes later, but Danish keeper Kasper Schmeichel made an outstanding save to deny a shot attempt by Flores.
Peru kept pressing forward in search of the equalizer but was unable to get it despite the best efforts of Jefferson Farfan and Andre Carrillo, who put pressure on the Danes with his accurate crosses.
The South American squad will look to bounce back when it takes on France on Thursday, while Denmark will square off against Australia that same day.