The Netherlands withstood a prolonged Denmark assault to secure the runners-up spot in UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ Group A and a place in the quarter-finals.
Both before and after Sylvia Smit's 58th-minute opener and Manon Melis' second, eight minutes later, Denmark put their opponents under concerted pressure. Although Johanna Rasmussen reduced the deficit soon after, the defeat means Kenneth Heiner-Møller's team must anxiously hope results from the other sections go their way if they are to progress as one of the two best third-placed sides. The Netherlands play either Norway or France in Tampere on 3 September, a day before Denmark's prospective quarter-final against the Group C winners.
Requiring a victory to clinch second spot, it was no surprise that Denmark, with a strong breeze at their backs, were immediately on the front foot, fashioning the first opportunity inside four minutes. Maiken Pape teed up Nadia Nadim, who skillfully lifted the ball over her marker, but had her attempted chip smothered by Netherlands goalkeeper Loes Geurts. Little had been seen of the Oranje as an attacking force as Denmark continued their search for the opener, which almost arrived when Pape's deflected shot, following a corner into the near post, looped up on to the crossbar.
The Netherlands were, in the main, happy to keep their shape and leave Chantal de Ridder – on her first start of the tournament – ploughing a lone furrow up front. The traffic was largely one way with Rasmussen crossing low to the far post for Cathrine Paaske Sørensen to shoot wide, seconds before the former dispossessed right-back Dyanne Bito and was thwarted by the onrushing Geurts.
De Ridder had seen little of the ball in the first half and her replacement at the interval, Karin Stevens, was just as isolated as Vera Pauw's team continued with their cautious approach after the break. Save for a flurry of corners Denmark were, however, unable to penetrate a solid Dutch rearguard and they surprisingly fell behind just before the hour when Smit seized on Mia Brogaard's header and carefully placed her half-volley wide of Heidi Johansen.
Denmark were stunned and the Oranje, looking to hit their opponents on the counterattack, made it two as Melis cut inside from the right and curled the ball into the bottom corner. Rasmussen reduced the deficit when she struck at the far post following Katrine Veje's centre but, despite further pressure, Denmark were unable to equalise.