Merete Pedersen's tenth goal in UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ qualifying proved enough to give Denmark victory against Ukraine and a place in next year's finals.
Having lost 1-0 in Ukraine back in June, Denmark had to win in Viborg to pip their rivals to first place in Group 5 and avoid next month's play-offs. And Pedersen's 63rd-minute header decided the game to the delight of the 9,155 crowd, meaning Denmark enter the draw for the tournament proper on 18 November in Helsinki while Ukraine will have to prevail on aggregate in their two-legged play-off – to be played on 25/26 and 29/30 October – against opponents to be discovered on Monday.
Denmark, who have reached the last eight of this competition in every edition other than 1987, started brightly but without creating clear-cut chances. Ukraine, aiming for their first major women's finals, were making the most of what possession they had, creating danger through Darina Apanaschenko, the scorer of the winner in that June encounter. Cathrine Paaske Sørensen and Camilla Sand went close for Denmark but Ukraine goalkeeper Nadezhda Baranova was on superb form.
After the break, Denmark were reliant on their own keeper Heidi Johansen to deny Apanaschenko with an excellent save but gradually the home side began to take control. And in a period of intense pressure in which Pedersen and Olsen both hit the crossbar, Denmark edged in front. Johanna Rasmussen crossed from the left and Pedersen got her head to the ball to score. "This is what I have been dreaming of ever since playing the away match against Ukraine, and it was just awesome to be able to decide this match with this fantastic support from the crowd," said the matchwinner. WOMEN'S EURO gets under way on 23 August and concludes on 10 September 2009.
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