A late equaliser from Pernille Harder cancelled out Kyah Simon's first-half strike and pushed the tie to penalties which saw Denmark emerge victorious winning 4-1 and consigning Australia to more penalty heartbreak.
The first shot in the game didn’t arrive until after the two sides had been running at each other for ten minutes, both teams looking for the front foot, neither able to claim an advantage. The shot, was a miscue from Sanne Troelsgaard, the attacker off balance and falling as she connected, Lydia Williams under no real threat although the short passage of play that had played the rangy striker in the best the match had seen. Emily van Egmond’s shot from 30 yards borne of frustration, the ball sailed over as both sides went back to their new home in a congested midfield.
The game sprung to life on the quarter hour, after Australia rode out good pressure in their own box from Denmark they broke well through Emily Gielnik, the attacker’s unmarked run down the right enough to leave the visitors scrambling.
When either could break free of midfield they looked dangerous, Denmark finding just the right amount of passing and bodies in the final third to leave Australia on their toes. It cut the other way too, when the Matildas could get into the attacking third, the Danish defence sagged, Oz particularly keen out wide, Gielnik consistently able to find space and offer something to her team. Yet with the game half an hour old there was nothing to separate the two, neither having seen a gilt-edged chance.
A deft header took the ball from Steph Catley before the defender could bring it down, Pernille Harder rounding the regular full-back and off on a sprint into the box, Catley and Alanna Kennedy sticking to her like glue. With the Wolfsburg woman well marshalled by the defensive pair she was unable to get her shot off and once more the ball went back into midfield, the game back where it started.
Australia strike first
With captain for the day, Elise Kellond-Knight quick to drop back and play as a third centre-back when Australia were behind the ball there was little room for Denmark to move, conversely the Matildas were finding little pockets behind the away backline. The less than stable Danish defence unable to deal with Katrina Gorry as she took off like a wombat with a firework up its’ backside, her determined run saw her ease down the left and scythe into the box. Her low drive at point-blank range scrambled back ten yards for Kyah Simon to thump into the hungry net, a moment of individual brilliance from Gorry that was well deserving of a goal.
At the other end, Williams found herself tested for the first time two minutes before the break, a neat lay-off from Harder to Troelsgaard played the Rosengård striker in, a firm glove from Williams enough to put the ball behind.
Having been looking far more assured since going up, the Matildas oozed confidence, and got numbers forward with ease, Simon’s scooped effort five minutes after the break just too much to find the net. A nice moment of understanding let Denmark in behind, a trip on Harder as she looked to dart into the box with the ball enough for a free kick, but after having won the set-piece, Harder couldn’t convert and the slot curled over.
Australia on top but unable to capitalise
With more of a spring in Australia’s step, Denmark found it even harder to create, the player’s preference to cutting in and keeping the ball central doing nothing to help their cause, the yellow defence well equipped to deal with their opposition. Whilst the Matildas still weren’t producing their best they were easily the better side, limiting their opponents in attack whilst eager to create and cause problems, bossing possession and promising a second goal to seal the tie.
Having looked second best in defence for the majority of the game it was almost a surprise to see Denmark equaliser, the team on the back foot for the entirety of the second-half, Harder’s tenacity to make something happen for her team paying off ten minutes from time. With a delicate touch to flick the ball over the defenders covering her, the Danish captain struck the ball on the half-volley under huge pressure, the net left shaking.
The equaliser rocked the Matildas, their hold on the game lost in the aftermath and they began to leave gaps for those in white, Denmark suddenly sensing blood, but unable to take their half-chances when they came.
Penalties to decide the tie
Line Roddik was first up for Denmark, her penalty sent right and beyond Williams, the right side pefered by Elise Kellond-Knight as she went first for Oz, her the ball tucked just inside of the post. 1-1
A surprise to many, Stina Lykke was next up for the Danes, her slow run-up enough to put Williams off as the ball trickled down the centre of the goal, the keeper the double-hero after saving Claire Polkinghorne’s spot kick to the left. 2-1
Stine Larsen made it three out of three for the Danes as she nestled her penalty just inside of the left post, Sam Kerr forced to see her spot kick to the same side saved by an inspired Lykke. 3-1
With a fine advantage there was still huge pressure on Trolesgaard as she stepped up, her firm penalty following the same path as the three before it to the left, Williams once again beaten. Denmark claiming bronze after burying all four of their spot kicks.