France were left on the brink of elimination from the UEFA Women's Championship, after losing 4-3 to Denmark at the Stadion an der Kreuzeiche in Reutlingen. Two goals from Gitte Krogh helped seal an impressive win for the Danish team in a thrilling Group B clash.
France made two changes from the side beaten 3-0 by Norway in their opening game. Gaelle Blouin replaced Françoise Jezéquel in midfield, while Hoda Lattaf came in up front for Anne Zénoni. Defender Katrine Pedersen overcame her injury problems to take her place in the starting line-up for Denmark and Julie Hauge Andersson was chosen to replace the injured Ulla Knudsen.
France looked lively from the kick off, with Lattaf and Marinette Pichon surging forward but the Danish defence stood firm during the opening exchanges. Denmark had the first clear chance of the match in the 11th minute. Christina Petersen broke down the right and swung a looping cross into the area, but Christina Bonde headed weakly at French keeper Corinne Lagache from eight metres.
Denmark were then given the chance to take the lead in the 14th minute when the referee awarded a penalty. Merete Pedersen fell under the challenge of French captain Corinne Diarce, and Krogh made no mistake from the spot, sending Lagache the wrong way.
Stunning free kick
Bonde then double Denmark's advantage just five minutes later, when she rifled home a stunning 30-metre free kick into the top corner. Despite their bright start France were rocked by the two early goals, but responded in magnificent fashion. They reduced the arrears in the 21st minute when Pichon broke behind the Danish rearguard and curled the ball home from the right of the area, via a wicked deflection.
Following the French goal, the game completely opened up, with chances coming thick and fast at both ends. Bonde showed her balance of strength and skill to beat two defenders before sending a powerful drive just the wrong side of the post, while Blouin struck from outside the area, only for Danish keeper Heidi Johansen to make a sprawling save.
The scores were level in the 27th minute, as France once again showed their attacking class. Blouin released Pichon down the line and her cut back eventually reached the onrushing Stéphanie Mugneret-Beghe, who made no mistake from ten metres. Further chances for Katrine Pedersen and Pichon came and went and the scores remained level at half time.
Lagache the hero
Lagache was the hero for France in the 56th minute, as she dived smartly to save Krogh's second penalty following a foul by Sonia Bompastor on Petersen. Krogh almost made amends for her error just a minute later, but lifted her 30-metre lob just wide after beating Lagache to the ball.
Denmark in front
Denmark retook the lead in the 71st minute, when Hauge Andersson latched on to substitute Nadia Kjaeldgaard's clever knock-down to steer the ball home. But France were not finished and they drew level once more with seven minutes remaining. Blouin was on hand to chip the ball home from 20 metres, after a Johansen's clearance only reached the edge of the Danish area.
The game then took another turn, as French defender Corinne Diarce was shown a red card following a foul on Krogh. Just when it looked like France would hang on for the draw, Denmark struck again to make it 4-3. Bonde's free kick was saved by Lagache, but Krogh was lurking to blast home for her second goal of the match.
Player of the match: Julie Hauge Andersson (Denmark)
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