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Harder hits three as Denmark stun Russia

Denmark scored four goals in nine minutes early in the second half as they turned a 1-0 deficit to Russia into a three-goal lead, eventually winning 5-1 as Pernille Harder sealed a hat-trick.

Pernille Harder hit a hat-trick
Pernille Harder hit a hat-trick ©Sportsfile

Nine golden minutes at the beginning of the second half were enough for Denmark to turn a one-goal deficit into a three-goal lead against fellow UEFA Women's EURO 2013 hopefuls Russia, Pernille Harder completing her hat-trick and a 5-1 win late on.

Olesya Kurochkina gave the visitors the advantage against the run of play before half-time, but the introduction of Nadia Nadim and Julie Rydahl Bukh at the interval changed the game. The latter equalised within two minutes, converting Katrine Veje's cross, and Veje scored herself before Harder took centre stage.

"It is always nice to score and if you don't try, you don't score – so I tried!" said Harder. "It was really nice to score five after our goal drought of late and adding Nadim to the attack in the second half brought some variation to our attacking play. We scored three against Mexico in our last match in the Algarve, but apart from that we have had scoring problems this year."

Those issues were apparent in the first half in Horsens as the 20-year-old Harder's off-target shot was all the hosts had to show for their dominance. Russia, who sealed their place in the final tournament with a play-off success against Austria, had started brightly enough, though, and Kurochkina finished off a rapid counterattack to make it 1-0.

Kenneth Heiner-Møller made his changes but could not have dreamed their impact would be so immediate. Within five minutes of the restart it was 2-1 and Haders struck twice in short succession to give Denmark a three-goal advantage. With ten minutes remaining she completed her treble to further banish the disappointment of Friday when Denmark suffered a last-gasp 1-0 loss to the Netherlands. They are next in action in June, against Iceland and Spain.