While England picked up three points against an impressive Haitian side, the Lionesses were frustrated by the debutants’ impressive performance – and would surely tune in to the second Group D match of the day, with Denmark taking on China. In a bizarre move, Wang Shuang was left on the bench – with Lou Jiahui taking her spot in the front line.
DEN: Christensen; Veje, Boye, Ballisager, Sevecke; Kühl, Holmgaard, Hasbo; Sørensen, Harder, Thomsen
CHN: Xu; Chen, Yao, Wu, Li; Zhang Linyan, Zhang Rui, Yang, Zhang Xin; Wang Shanshan, Lou
It was the Chinese side that looked to find an early breakthrough, with Chen’s strike from distance soaring high and wide of the woodwork. Desperate to make their early pressure pay off, Zhang Linyan broke away in search of the opener – but Christensen did well to deny her low effort.
Despite Denmark seeming to grow into the game after twenty minutes or so, it was the Steel Roses that maintained the lion’s share of the ball. China had a fantastic opportunity to open the scoring with five minutes remaining before the break, as a free-kick from the left bobbled away from Zhang Linyan, who otherwise looked destined to beat Christensen.
With neither side able to finish their few chances, the match remained goalless at the interval – after undoubtedly the dullest 45 minutes of football displayed throughout this tournament so far. Mere minutes into the second half though, Denmark should have found the opener through Hasbro, but the midfielder planted her header over the crossbar despite being just ten yards out from an entirely open goal.
While the game had certainly become more open since play resumed for the second period, Denmark had still failed to produce a shot on target by the hour mark – with China establishing themselves as the side most comfortable in front of goal.
An attempted defensive clearance from Wang Shanshan came just inches away from backfiring dramatically, flying barely wide of the far post as she strived to ease the danger following a Danish free kick. The rød-hvide’s attacking promise seemed to improve in the latter stages of the encounter, though Madsen’s headed effort from a few yards out was punched away by Xu.
The Danish pressure looked set to crack as Harder broke through on goal, but Bayern Munich’s marquee signing took one touch too many, allowing Yao to track back and divert her strike away from goal.
Yet in the dying seconds of regulation time, Amalie Vangsgaard – who had only been introduced four minutes prior – found the back of the net with a stunning header from Harder’s corner delivery. There were momentary concerns that Sevecke’s positioning may have led to the goal being chalked off for offside, though the substitute’s header from distance was allowed to stand, handing Denmark all three points in a closely-fought encounter.
The Group D action resumes on Friday, 28 July. England will face Denmark at 09:30am UK time, while China look to pick up three points against Haiti at midday. Both games will likely be cagey affairs, given the football on display on Matchday 1.