Denmark's bid to win the prestigious Algarve Cup for the first time got off to a fine start today with a 1-0 defeat of Germany while Sweden and Norway also won.
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Last year Denmark were beaten in the final for the fourth time, losing to the United States, but they looked on form today as Merete Pedersen struck at the start of the second half past Silke Rottenberg, returning to the Germany lineup more than a year after tearing cruciate knee ligaments. Seven minutes from time Germany substitute Lena Goessling hit the crossbar, but otherwise they created few chances and are in danger of repeating their 2007 performance, when they finished eights with three defeats in four games. "We now have to analyse what went wrong", said Germany midfielder Renate Lingor. "We did not lack commitment, but we made many, many mistakes."
In the other Group A game, Denmark's Friday opponents Sweden were 2-0 up at the break against Finland thanks to Hanna Ljungberg and Nilla Fischer. Although Leena Puranen pulled one back, Therese Lundin sealed the victory near the end.
Norway made an excellent start to Group B, even though Elise Thorsnes's early goal was cancelled out on 34 minutes by Italy's Patrizia Panico. Lene Storløkken restored the advantage within two minutes of the restart and Ane Horpestad and Leni Kaurin put the game beyond the Azzurre before Melania Gabbiadini's consolation. Norway next play China, who were defeated 4-0 by the United States. The two group winners qualify for the final.
Four European teams are involved in Group C, where the top two get to play off for seventh and ninth place respectively in next Wednesday's finals. Iceland, who have high hopes of qualifying for UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ in Finland, beat Poland 2-0 and hosts Portugal defeated the Republic of Ireland 1-0.