Denmark caused a shock when they beat reigning Olympic champions Norway 1-0 at the Waldstadion in Aalen to qualify for the semi-finals of the UEFA Women's Championship.
Denmark caused a shock when they beat reigning Olympic champions Norway 1-0 at the Waldstadion in Aalen to qualify for the semi-finals of the UEFA Women's Championship. Denmark finished top of Group B but Norway also qualified on goal difference after Italy were beaten 2-0 by France in the other group match in Ulm.
Norway had made two changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Italy in Reutlingen on Wednesday. Defender Anne Bugge-Paulsen stepped in for the suspended Göril Kringen, while Anita Rapp was drafted in to replace Linda Örmen. Denmark's only change saw Nadia Kjaeldgaard chosen ahead of Lene Jensen.
Rapp had the best chance of the opening exchanges but saw her powerful strike tipped over the crossbar by Danish goalkeeper Heidi Johansen. Dagny Mellgren also came close but her header sailed narrowly over after a neat flick by strike partner Ragnhild Gulbrandsen. At the other end Gitte Krogh, scorer of two goals in Denmark's 4-3 win against France, lifted the ball just too high from Christina Petersen's hanging cross. Denmark midfielder Christina Bonde then played in Merete Pedersen but her curling effort flew just wide of the post.
Just as Denmark were enjoying a bout of sustained pressure, Norway broke upfield and were denied a certain goal by a last-ditch tackle from Julie Hauge Andersson. Her challenge was enough to put off Rapp as she slid in to meet Mellgren's low cross and the scores remained level at half-time.
Early in the second half Norwegian captain Hege Riise was unlucky not to open the scoring but her 25-metre free-kick landed on the roof of the net. Denmark also went close to taking the lead but Katrine Pedersen's snap shot after a goalmouth scramble rocketed over the bar. Pedersen then showed her defensive abilities as she denied Gulbrandsen from five metres, sliding to dispossess the Norway striker at the very last moment.
The two sides then endured a period of midfield stalemate before Norway struck the woodwork following a flowing move. Mellgren raced over halfway and fed the ball to Solveig Gulbrandsen, but her low shot hit the outside of the right upright with Johansen well beaten.
With just six minutes remaining Denmark took a shock lead through Merete Pedersen. Chasing a long ball from the back, she raced clear of the Norwegian defence and headed over the advancing Bente Nordby to make it 1-0.
Denmark now face Sweden in the last four while Norway are paired with joint favourites and hosts Germany in what many predicted would be the final. Norway's lack of striking potency against a resilient Danish defence proved their undoing and it is their Scandinavian neighbours who can bask in the glory of being group winners.
Player of the match: Christina Bonde (Denmark)