Denmark pulled themselves back into contention to qualify for the Euro 2022 quarter-finals with a narrow 1-0 victory over Finland on Tuesday evening.
A Pernille Harder header 18 minutes from time proved decisive, leaving Finland on the cusp of elimination.
The evening’s first sight of goal fell to Denmark, as Sara Thrige’s cross was flicked goalwards by Nadia Nadim. Tinja-Riikka Korpela got down quickly to tip away the effort.
It would be a common theme of the half. Denmark enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and territory, but were consistently thwarted by Korpela in the Finland goal. Nadim and Katrine Veje both saw efforts held by the Finland goalkeeper before the half was out.
The Danes continued to push for the opening goal in the second half, Sine Pedersen blazing over from close range following neat build-up play from substitute Sofie Svava.
Harder was marshalled to within an inch of her life by the Finnish backline, but managed to evade their attention for the first time just after the hour mark, striding forward with purpose, riding three challenges and feeding Karen Holmgaard. Again, the inspired Korpela was out quickly to deny the substitute.
Harder and Denmark finally made the breakthrough with 20 minutes remaining. Janni Thomsen’s wicked cross was headed against the cross bar by Holmgaard and Harder was on hand to gobble up the rebound, gleefully nodding into the gaping net.
Having been largely a spectator for the duration of the game, Lene Christensen was called into action in stoppage time, pulling off a fabulous save to tip a scorching Jenny Danielsson effort over the bar and preserve the victory for Denmark.
GK: Lene Christensen – 7/10 – Untested all game before producing a stunning, stretching save at the death – a real clutch moment from the Denmark goalkeeper.
CB: Rikke Sevecke – 6/10 – Won plenty in the air, untroubled by the Finland forward line.
CB: Sine Pedersen – 7/10 – Encouraged to bomb forward from centre half – blazed a big opportunity over in the second half. Won plenty in the air, dealing comfortably with any Finland long balls.
CB: Katrine Veje – 6/10 – Marauded forward from centre-back as part of a flowing team move, with her tame shot comfortably saved. Very comfortable and composed on the ball inside her own box.
RWB: Sara Thrige – 6/10 – Tore forward frequently and looked one of Denmark’s most dangerous attacking threats. Moved to the left flank for a period in the first half, replaced after 56 minutes.
CM: Sofie Junge Pedersen – 6/10 – Positive on the ball, always looking to play forward and looked to bring the wing-backs into the game wherever possible.
CM: Sanne Troelsgaard – 5/10 – Calm and collected on the ball, without setting the game alight. Replaced just after the hour.
LWB: Janni Thomsen – 7/10 – Switched to the right after half an hour and saw more of the ball in high areas, flashing a teasing cross across the face of goal. Provided the dangerous deep cross from which Denmark opened the scoring.
RF: Pernille Harder – 7/10 – Swarmed by Finnish defenders whenever she was on the ball. Came alive in the final 25 minutes, embarking on a charging run and sliding Holmgaard through, before popping up in the right place at the right time to head Denmark into the lead. Suffered a nasty head injury in the final five minutes.
CF: Signe Bruun – 5/10 – Blazed over from range in the first half. Linked up well with Veje for another Denmark opening, but otherwise quiet before being replaced on the 64-minute mark.
LF: Nadia Nadim – 6/10 – Denied by Korpela in the opening exchanges with an attempted flicked finish. Lively, sharp and skilful, replaced after 56 minutes.
SUB: Sofie Bredgaard – 5/10
SUB: Sofie Svava – 5/10
SUB: Karen Holmgaard – 6/10
SUB: Stine Larsen – 5/10
SUB: Simone Boye Sørensen – N/A
GK: Tinja-Riikka Korpela – 7/10 – Made a terrific save early doors, getting down low quickly to deny Nadim, and out really quickly to keep Holmgaard out in the second half.
RB: Emma Koivisto – 6/10 – Tried to get forward as frequently as possible, flashing a cross-cum-shot narrowly wide in the first half. Won an important back-post header in the second half, read the game well throughout. Lost Holmgaard in the build-up to Denmark’s goal.
CB: Natalia Kuikka – 6/10 – Part of the pack that surrounded Harder at every given opportunity. Won plenty in the air, calm in possession.
CB: Anna Westerlund – 5/10 – A bit all over the place for Denmark’s goal as Finland failed to deal with the delivery into the box. Had otherwise stifled Harder pretty effectively.
LB: Elli Pikkujamsa – 5/10 – Not out quick enough to close down the cross for Denmark’s goal. Unable to get forward much and contribute offensively.
RM: Essi Sainio – 5/10 – Linked up well with Koivisto at times, but didn’t offer a great deal of attacking impetus.
CM: Evelina Summanen – 5/10 – Given the slip by Harder in the build-up to Denmark’s opener. Unable to give Finland’s forward line a great deal of service.
CM: Emmi Alanen – 5/10 – Unable to link the midfield and forward line, with Finland’s striking duo largely starved of support.
LM: Ria Oling – 5/10 – Didn’t offer Pikkujamsa a great deal of protection, with both Denmark right wing-backs a frequent threat. Created very little.
ST: Linda Sallstrom – 4/10 – Starved of service but largely anonymous as Finland rarely threatened. Replaced with 15 minutes remaining.
ST: Sanni Franssi – 4/10 – Left to feed off scraps as Finland created next to nothing. Struggled against Denmarks’s three centre-halves.
SUB: Olga Ahtinen – 5/10
SUB: Jenny Danielsson – N/A