GUIMARAES, Portugal -- Italy was held to a 0-0 tie by Denmark yesterday, a big setback for an Italian team considered one of the favorites to win the European Championship.
In yesterday's other game, Sweden routed Bulgaria, 5-0.
It was a disappointing result for the Italians, who were outplayed by a workmanlike Danish team that was stronger and quicker and would have won if not for two saves by Gianluigi Buffon, one of the world's best goalkeepers.
"At last, we faced the reality of European Championship," Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni said.
Buffon kept out shots by Martin Joergensen and Dennis Rommedahl. Denmark goalie Thomas Soerensen made reflex-action stops on shots by Alessandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti in the space of two seconds.
Playing in 91-degree heat, the Danes employed pace and muscle to try and unsettle the usually rock-solid Italian defense, and they provided some early scares.
"I thought we deserved to win the game," Denmark coach Morten Olsen said. "We were better prepared, certainly better prepared than Italy. There is no doubt about that."
The Italians came close to scoring when Totti's 30-yard free kick was bending toward the net before Soerensen pushed the ball around the post.
In the 17th minute, Danish veteran Thomas Helveg powered a 25-yard shot that the unprotected Buffon had to punch upward.
Fielding four stars who play regularly in the Italian league, the Danes stretched the Italian midfield and pressured the defense.
Henrik Larsson, persuaded to come out of retirement from international play, had two goals for Sweden. Fredrik Ljungberg, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Marcus Allback also scored for the Swedes.