Portugal through despite Denmark defeat
Sunday, July 8, 2012
Portugal 0-1 Denmark
Camilla Andersen's second-half penalty ensured Denmark ended their Group A campaign with a 100% record, while Portugal joined them in the last four.
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Denmark ended their Group A campaign with maximum points after Camilla Andersen's confident penalty secured a 1-0 victory against Portugal, who also booked their place in the last four.
Top of the section before the game, Denmark were already assured of a semi-final meeting with Sweden, while Portugal needed a point to join them. The Danes were comfortable throughout and found their reward 15 minutes from time when Andersen scored from the spot. Despite defeat, José Paisana's charges set up a semi-final date with Spain after Turkey could only manage a draw with Romania.
The action switched ends at dizzying speed in a fascinatingly tense and committed opening. Denmark poured scorn on any suggestions of complacency and began tightening their grip with some short slick, incisive passing. Winger Christina Bovbjerg was a productive outlet and tricked herself into a crossing position, but Andersen's fierce strike was repelled by Bárbara Santos at her near post. Søren Randa-Boldt's side built attacks in familiar waves and threatened to overrun a Portugal defence that was dropping deeper and deeper.
Vanessa Malho tried in vain to engineer a response but her speculative drive was tipped round a post. Jéssica Silva was next to threaten and, after ghosting to the byline, she etched out a teasing centre which flashed across goal. The pressure relented, but only momentarily as Andersen jinked through Portugal's mass ranks and, although her deft lob beat Santos, the ball was scrambled off the line.
Denmark emerged after the break with similar vigour and stretched their opponents with some smart wing play. Karoline Nielsen was the immediate catalyst but her low cross was bravely intercepted to frustrate Andersen's predatory instincts. The ubiquitous forward, who scored ten goals during a peerless qualification campaign, then came to the fore moments later, teasing her marker before stinging the fingertips of Santos. Denmark were painting a dominant picture, and Julie Jensen was the artist masterfully wielding the brush with delicate poise.
Portugal's attacks were sporadic but without the ball they harried and hectored their opponents until an unfortunate handball by Mónica Mendes gifted Denmark a penalty. Andersen promptly stepped up and sent Santos the wrong way with supreme confidence. Mélissa Gomes came closest to restoring parity after her rasping strike was spilled by Maria Christensen, before jubilant scenes ensued at the final whistle.