To say it was a fast start would be an understatement, the Danes took the lead less than a minute into the game. A soft foul gifted Janni Arnth the chance to float the ball into a dangerous area, the connection not made by the attacker but a less than clean claim by Neide Simões game Stine Larsen a chance to pick up the loose ball and roll it into the empty net. A disaster start for a Portuguese side that hadn’t beaten Denmark in any of their previous 17 encounters.
The hosts couldn’t live with her opponents and were forced to concede a free kick right on the line, the dead ball sent in routinely out for a corner. Again, Portugal struggled with the Danish presence in the box, a red shirt first to the loose ball as Line Jensen made it two-nil with ease.
The hosts responded well, and managed to start stringing passes together, keen to put on a show for the home fans. They got forward well and looked half dangerous but were consistently likely to be hit on the counter, Denmark’s technical proficiency aiding turn-over, the ball never straying far from the home half.
At the half wore on, Portugal had more joy getting forward, winning more in midfield they began to carve out chances, Diana Silva happy to play off of the shoulder and work Line Johnansen when she could. Having more joy down the right through Ana Leite with Ana Borges working extra hard behind her in defence – the Chelsea woman sticking to her defensive duties well – Portugal looked to be coming back into the game. Finally the hosts had a clean strike at goal, when Cláudia Neto took aim from just outside the box, her effort a whisker wide.
Troelsgaard makes it three
From enjoying their best spell to down again, Portugal were undone at the back once more with a cute lay-off from Sarah Dyrehauge. With the ball flashed across goal and the merciless Sanne Troelsgaard snatched the ball from a downed Simões to thump into the empty net.
Three goals down inside of the first-half, Portugal refused to let their heads drop and came right back at their opposition, only finding more fight with every time they conceded. The hosts very nearly with an immediate response as Dolores Silva’s thunderbolt smashed against the crossbar before bouncing over and out.
Even though the rain in Portimao had long-since stopped, Portugal were fast learning that when it rained, it poured. Denmark’s fourth goal a second for Stine Larsen, the Brøndby woman rising to meet Cecillie Sandvej’s free kick, both her and Troesgaard up with Simões. The trio collectively whipped their heads back to see the ball crest into the hungry net and the hosts once more trudged back to the centre-circle.
Not without effort, the execution and ability to cut through the away defence routinely undid Portugal, Borges and Neto worked overtime for the cause but the team struggled for clear chances and when they did find an opening the finish was lacking. A stoppage time free kick just outside the area had the fans cheering but Suzane Pires’ short ball failed to inspire the crowd, Denmark turned the ball over with ease and broke once more, the only thing stopping Larsen from pulling the trigger, the whistle.
Portugal still battling
With a healthy lead, Denmark were happy to slow the game down when they came out for the second-half, although Portugal were having none of it as they continued to battle for their opener. Neto’s free kick, another half chance for the hosts, the ball deflecting off of the wall into the box but the ball refused to drop in their favour, luck not on their side. But the work was persistent from the hosts, the final connection still lacking as the team looked infantile.
Having been confined to their own half for the first ten minutes of the second-half, the Danes were happy to stretch their legs and hit their hosts on the counter. Sarah Dyrehauge’s ball slipped through to Katrine Veje as she broke into the box, the midfielder first to the ball to poke away from her marker and the hapless keeper.
Of course, the Danes weren’t done there and quickly added a sixth from the spot after Frederikke Thøgersen cross was handled on the way through. Despite getting a firm hand to Troelsgaard’s penalty, Simões couldn’t get enough height on the parry and the ball arced into the air, Troelsgaard quick off the mark to scramble the ball over the line ahead of the ‘keeper.
Six goals down, Portugal continued to work, desperately looking for time and space in the box, all on the pitch in mint green willing to work but still coming up short with the execution. The rain began to fall once more, the cut-up pitch increasingly slippery, the play refusing to flow as the hosts still looked short on luck.
A nice move five minutes from time saw two substitutes combine when Laura Luis set Melissa Antunes away, the latter’s curled effort forcing a hanging save from Johansen, the first real work the keeper had had to do all game. The wind was in Portugal’s sails as they looked to end on a high, but still the window of opportunity stayed shut, no matter how many green shirts got forward it just wasn’t happening for the hosts.
It was a thorough dismantling, even when they didn’t look too concerned about scoring, Denmark still had the back of the net rippling. Portugal battled but it was without avail, and they shopped more than five to the Danes for the third time in their history, the tournament hosts better than this result but a team that still has a long way to go.