Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Denmark Stun China In 90th Minute For Winning World Cup Return

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Denmark ended a 16-year Women’s World Cup absence with victory as a 90th-minute header from Amalie Vangsgaard broke China’s hearts in Perth on Saturday. Having come on five minutes earlier, the substitute soared highest to give Denmark a 1-0 victory and stun the crowd of 17,000 fans, most of whom were loudly supporting the Asian champions. “It’s really been surreal, I’m very happy that’s for sure,” said 26-year-old Vangsgaard, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain.

“It was really important to get three points, (so we can) try to get further in the tournament.”

It was a significant victory for Denmark between two similarly ranked teams in Group D, which is headlined by England. The Danes face them next.

“We expect a tough game, they are the European champions,” Vangsgaard said.

“If we bring the energy that’s in the locker room right now, I’m sure we’re going to win.”

Led by dynamic 22-year-old Zhang Linyan, China had been the aggressors in a match that failed to live up to great heights until the dramatic ending. Having been an early powerhouse in women’s football, finishing runners-up in 1999, China had hoped a shock triumph at last year’s Asian Cup could fuel a return to their former glory.

“I appreciate their efforts, but we didn’t meet our goal (of a win) which is a pity,” China coach Shui Qingxia said.

“We realise that we have some issues, but overall the strategy was fine and we’ll improve in the future.”

Star striker Wang Shuang surprisingly started on the bench, as an enterprising China dominated the early exchanges with their speed on the left wing rattling a nervous Denmark.

But they were let down by poor finishing with their best chance, from Zhang, forcing Denmark goalkeeper Lene Christensen into a low save to her left. Denmark, whose entire line-up comprised World Cup debutants, finally settled, with captain Pernille Harder assertive in her return from hamstring surgery.

But Denmark failed to penetrate a gritty China defence and their frustrations boiled over when Rikke Sevecke received a yellow card for shirt pulling just before half-time.

Wang came on after half-time and made an immediate impact, rifling a long-range shot, only to be thwarted by Christensen.

The contest opened up as both teams pressed, but Denmark’s Josefine Hasbo missed a header in the 52nd minute with the goal at her mercy.

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