By Pete Sanderson at Bloomfield Road
A wonderful strike from Johanna Rasmussen earned Denmark a 1-1 draw in their opening UEFA European Women's Championship Group A match against Scandinavian rivals Sweden.
Hanna Ljungberg had given Sweden a 20th-minute lead with a neat close-range finish but Rasmussen cut in from the left and fired a rising, right-footed finish past Hedvig Lindahl and into the roof of the net to restore parity eight minutes later.
With no fresh injury problems to report, Sweden coach Marika Domanski-Lyfors had the luxury of selecting from a fully fit squad. As expected Hanna Marklund would be marshalling a talented back four, with captain Malin Moström using all her experience in a midfield quartet and their forward line would be led by arguably the strongest forward pairing in the world game - Ljungberg and Victoria Svensson.
Denmark coach Peter Bonde was not so fortunate and was forced to leave forward Tanja Mejer Christensen on the bench after she picked up a back injury in training. There was one piece of good news for Bonde, however, with top scorer Merete Pedersen recovering from a groin problem in time to make the starting lineup.
It was Sweden who crafted the first meaningful opportunity. Livewire striker Ljungberg latched on to a long ball down the left after Lindahl's searching clearance caught Mariann G. Knudsen off guard but her audacious lob attempt flew agonisingly over the bar. As the Swedes poured forward, some good work from Svensson set up Ljungberg again but this time she could only head over.
The Danes, who had elected to start with a 4-5-1 formation to combat Sweden's midfield superiority, spent the opening ten minutes trying to establish a foothold in the game but could have gone ahead on the counter with their first real opportunity had Louise Hansen not fired straight at Lindahl.
It would have been harsh had Sweden fallen behind after such a period of dominance and it came as no surprise when Domanski-Lyfors' classy side finally broke the deadlock through Ljungberg. Some clever build-up play left the Danes in defensive disarray and, after the ball had bobbled around the area, it eventually landed at the feet of Ljungberg who confidently clipped the ball beyond the despairing dive of Tine Cederkist.
But Denmark, who held the Swedes to a goalless draw in a recent friendly, refused to buckle despite Ljungberg and Moström's impressive attempts to double their advantage. They were soon on level terms with their Scandinavian neighbours thanks to a moment of individual brilliance from Rasmussen.
The forward picked up the ball down the left and skipped past two challenges before cutting inside and firing a right-footed screamer into the roof of the Swedish net. It was a goal which came very much against the run of play but few could knock the plucky Danes for their spirited recovery and an exquisite goal which will doubtless be a contender for goal of the tournament.
The second half began in the same vein as the first half ended, Denmark probing and Sweden still ruing the catalogue of chances they missed in the opening period. Sweden's tormentor-in-chief was pacy Danish winger Nanna Mølbach Johansen but her side could not get the breakthrough.
Sweden had chances of their own to win the game but after an unsuccessful penalty appeal when Ljungberg went to ground, the game finished honours even - although neither side will be upset by making an unbeaten start to the campaign.
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