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Denmark restrict Sweden to narrow lead

Sweden 2-1 Denmark
Cathrine Paaske-Sørensen's away goal put the World Cup play-off on a knife-edge after a tight first leg in Gothenburg.

Mariann Gajhede Knudsen (left) challenges Sweden captain Caroline Seger
Mariann Gajhede Knudsen (left) challenges Sweden captain Caroline Seger ©Anders Kjærbye/Kvindelandsholdet.dk

The FIFA Women's World Cup play-off between Sweden and Denmark is delicately poised after a tight first leg in Gothenburg.

Sweden seemed to have control of the tie thanks to strikes from Linda Forsberg and Lotta Schelin but Cathrine Paaske-Sørensen then claimed an away goal to give Denmark real hope in Thursday's second leg in Vejle. However, Denmark coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller insisted: "Sweden are still huge favourites."

Denmark were under pressure from the off and were behind on 12 minutes when Forsberg exchanged passes with Nilla Fischer before beating two defender and producing a tremendous strike to the top scorner. Schelin came close to a second but could not find the target with only Heidi Johansen to beat.

Although Denmark pushed more after the break they were two down just past the hour mark. Josefine Öqvist's clever ball found Schelin, who put her shot between Johansen's legs. Three minutes later, though, Katrine Pedersen's deflected free-kick was parried by Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl into Paaske-Sørensen's path and the Denmark midfielder volleyed in. Lindahl denied Pedersen in added time as the visitors pushed hard at the end following the arrival of Katrine Veje and Johanna Rasmussen.

Thomas Dannerby, the Sweden coach, said: "The most important was to win the match because now Denmark are forced to win. I believe that it was bad luck that Denmark managed to score a goal but that's football. In the second leg Denmark may be forced to push forward and that could work for us. We are very good at stealing the ball in midfield and playing through our very quick forwards."

Heiner-Møller added: "This was a top-class international with two teams trying to win. Furthermore I think the referees deserve credit for a good effort. I am clearly not satisfied with the result but we did manage to score a goal which could be very important in the second leg. In the second half I brought in some extra firepower up front and that paid off I think. I believe that Sweden have an excellent team with many quality players, especially their frontline. Sweden are still huge favourites to proceed from the play-offs but we will give them a hard fight in Vejle on Thursday."