Starting as they meant to go on, Germany took the lead less than 150 seconds into the game with their first real foray forward. Isabel Kerschowski’s angled shot from just outside the area parried into the net by Stina Lykke. A free kick up the other end saw Denmark’s chance to restore parity instantly, two red shirts arriving at the back post but both ended up on their backsides. Another drive forward saw white shirts swarm the Danish box, the defence ragged, Sara Däbritz’ shot on the turn grabbed by Lykke at full stretch.
A perpetual threat, Pernille Harder took it on herself to dash forward with the ball, working space for herself, Almuth Schult was left rooted as her low finish slipped the wrong side of the post.
A goal up the Germans played with swagger, the team set up to attack and attack they did, Kristin Demann’s shot from range pushed clear by Lykke, the game barely started and Germany already cruising into the last four. Sloppy in midfield, a couple of loose passes went unpunished, the German defence doing enough to cover the sluggish Danish attack.
Keeping possession well, Germany were the only team to threaten, the Danes too disjointed as they tried to move forward, the reigning champions still a little cheap in midfield but consistently unpunished. Another hopeful effort from Demann brought about another parry from Lykke, her defence mopping up afterwards, those in white hungry for a second.
The persistent wind and rain made playing conditions less than ideal, the surface slick and heavy, passes routinely misjudged.
Denmark’s best chance came ten minutes before the break, Theresa Nielsen finally able to get forward, her dangerous ball in missed by both Harder and Lena Goeßling before Anna Blässe put it out. The resulting corner was immediately pulled back for a foul, however another chance presented itself for the red and whites, Katrine Veje’s snap-shot right down Schult’s throat and well held. Another German push forward saw Sara Doorsoun try her hand from just outside the area, Lykke just about able to pluck the ball from the air before it dropped under her bar. The ball recycled, it was Denmark’s turn to test the keeper Sanne Troelsgaard's hopeful shot enough to sting Schult’s fingers as she pushed it behind.
Nadia Nadim’s header at the resulting corner less than spectacular. The last action of the half, Dzsenifer Marozsán lashing a shot at goal from 20-yards, the ball scrapping the top layer of paint off of the bar as it flew over.
Countering at an early German corner, Harder brought the ball away before winning her side a corner of their own. Troelsgaard’s delivery might not have been the best but Stine Larsen’s tenacity saw the Danes keep the ball, advantage played as she took the ball to the by-line before feeding it back in for Nadim to nod into the net. With the wind in their sails, Denmark finally looked to have settled, earning a rash of corners as the holders repelled their efforts.
Predictably Germany regained their focus and increased their attacking endeavours, the ball suddenly stuck in and around the Danish box, Lykke coming up big with another save this time to deny Linda Dallmann from ten yards. With the game suddenly open after the break it wasn’t long before Schult was back under pressure, Nadim’s ball flicked on by Harder and crashed against the bar by Veje.
A neat ball in behind saw Harder with something to chase, getting to the ball before Babett Peter she nodded it on before colliding with Schult, the captain involved again minutes later when she dragged her shot wide. But of course it was Germany who were next to come close, neat footwork from Dallmann opened up the space before she fired near post, Lykke’s feet doing the job her hands couldn’t; another corner for the eight-time champions.
In search of a winner
In a game filled with so many “almost” moments, Anja Mittag added her own fifteen minutes from time when she nodded Däbritz’ fiery cross over. The game running a hundred miles an hour as the Danes recycled the ball and advanced. Nadim clashing with Schult as the ball slipped beyond the pair, deflected clear with Veje lurking.
As Germany ramped up the pressure and substitute Lina Magull began to dance around the area, the winner seemed to be coming for the team in white. A short corner cleared after a well-timed intervention. The small contingent of Danish fans – who were thoroughly outnumbered by their German counterparts – in full voice after Nielsen’s awkward header seven minutes from time. Frederikke Thøgersen’s breathless run to keep the ball alive well rewarded as the full back charged into the heart of the box to her the Fortuna woman’s cross home.
The pressure was on then, Germany still with more in the tank and Denmark spent, trying to get back and reduce what Germany could do. Spaces opening in the red defence, but white shirts unable to capitalise, the last minutes and four of stoppage crawling by as Harder, Nadim and Veje kept trying to bring it away. Eventually the clock ran out for Germany, the holders out, the Danish through.