Denmark recorded a comfortable but crucial 4-0 win over Slovakia on Thursday night, one which sees them leapfrog their Group 4 opponents into second place.
Early pressure pays off
The game started off with Denmark putting pressure on Slovakia, and it almost paied off after just a minute. Experienced winger Johanna Rasmussen fired a shot at the Slovakian keeper, and Stine Larsen narrowly missed on the rebound. Rasmussen and Larsen are a new constellation up top, and Nils Nielsen's gamble almost paid off immediately.
Slovakia, as expected, produced a lot of physical play, but they managed to handle Denmark off well. The hosts' next chance didn't come until the 15th minute, but only saw Line Røddik's shot from distance fly some way over the goal.
Slovakia started getting more and more into the game, but it was mostly due to counter-attacks that didn't put much pressure on Stina Lykke Petersen behind the Danish defence.
However, the deadlock was finally broken before the half hour mark as all of Denmark's possession finally amounted into a goal. Røddik found Sanne Troelsgaard after a good run, and Troelsgaard brilliantly passed it to Pernille Harder with a backheel. Harder calmly slotted it into the net as the attacking player, who has nine goals in seven games in the Damallsvenskan, continues to score.
Slovakia can't take their big chance
This woke up the Slovakian side who, just a minute later, had a chance to equalise. A bad clearance in the Danish defence was almost punished, but no Slovakian player was able to connect with a good cross.
As the game started to open up, Denmark got another huge chance after a pass from Simone Boye Sørensen was chested down by Harder to Troelsgaard, but her shot was straight at the keeper.
Slovakia's biggest chance of the game came in the 37th minute when a miscommunication in the Danish defence meant that Dana Fecková had a one on one with Lykke Petersen, but the Danish goalkeeper came up big as the first half ended 1-0.
Denmark wrap it up
The second half started with Nadia Nadim and Line Jensen being subbed on, with the former especially having something to prove after being snubbed for a starting spot.
It didn't take the long for the confident forward to have an impact either. After a perfectly delivered free-kick from Johanna Rasmussen, the Stateside forward rose up and headed the ball in behind Maria Korenciova for 2-0.
Denmark continued to be dominant, but Slovakia also had their chances. Dominika Skorvankova tested Petersen 15 minutes into the half, but the Danish 'keeper saved the Slovakian's long shot.
The game was decided when Petra Zdechovanová handled the ball in the area, and Nadim scored the subsequent penalty to make it 3-0 to the Danes.
The third goal clearly took the wind out of the Slovakians and it was a very resigned away side that played the last part of the game. Denmark continued to try and find the fourth goal, and when Harder went on a solo run in the 72nd minute, her pass to Troelsgaard was nearly awarded with exactly that. However, the winger couldn't finish it off.
Harder, who was the best player of the match, also had a cracking effort from distance in the 88th minute, but Korenciova saved this too.
Right before the final whistle, Theresa Nielsen sent in a cross, which Sanne Troelsgaard finished off as the game ended 4-0.
Next up for Denmark is a game against Poland, who were beaten 4-0 by Sweden earlier today. Slovakia, meanwhile, face the latter - the group leaders.