Denmark defeat Brazil at Parken in front of historic home crowd

Denmark home fans pack out the Parken Stadium
Image credit: FIFA

It was a night to remember for Denmark as they triumphed over Brazil in their first ever match at the national stadium, in front of a record home crowd.

A total of 21,542 fans arrived for the international friendly at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, ahead of the European Championships next month.

The match also saw the anticipated returns of Rikke Sevecke and Nadia Nadim to the Danish squad after lengthy injuries.

For Brazil, who will appear at the Copa América, a younger team are preparing to take up the mantles of absent national team veterans including Marta and Formiga.

The fixture may have been friendly, but the competitive ambitions of both sides were clear from the off.

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Head-to-head battling

Danish captain Pernille Harder exhibited her composure and creativity in the centre, moving freely to set up her attacking teammates. After an early shot by Sofie Svava was blocked, Harder threaded the ball out wide to Janni Thomsen. The young midfielder found herself with the space to strike from outside the 18-yard box, putting the home side ahead after 16 minutes.

Harder and Svava combined on another attempt only two minutes later, which was saved by Brazilian keeper Lorena.

Despite early set piece opportunities, Brazil were unable to penetrate the Danish defence. A close attempt by Kerolin went wide of the left post just before the half time whistle. In the second half, the visitors continued to mount pressure, but faced a continuous blockade of red shirts.

Likewise, Denmark found themselves unable to further their lead, and head coach Lars Søndergaard made three changes to his side at the 60-minute mark.

Forward Nadim, who had surgery to repair a ruptured ACL and MCL only nine months ago, came off the bench to claim her 100th cap for Denmark.

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Debinha fights back

The battle continued to wage tirelessly, and it looked as though Denmark might hold off their opponents. With three minutes of regular time to play, Brazil’s Debhina took matters into her own hands.

Lorena’s distribution took a heavy touch from defender Katrine Veje into the right wing. The Brazilian captain intercepted, sprinted the ball to the goal-line, and cut back into the box to finish from a tight angle.

With time running out to secure a victory at Parken, Denmark’s six substitutes gave them the last-minute edge.

Mille Gejl’s first attempt was saved, but a second golden opportunity was provided. Nadim’s pinpoint assist met Gejl unmarked at the left post, enabling a slick finish from the six-yard edge.

In a fierce competition, the win for Denmark was a real team effort in all areas of the pitch. Centre-back Stine Ballisager Pedersen was awarded Player of the Match for her valiant defensive performance. She provided crucial blocks and interceptions throughout to deny the Brazilian attackers.

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Looking ahead to the summer

The two 22-year-olds, Thomsen and Gejl, became the first Danish women to score at the national stadium.

Søndergaard’s squad is in excellent form heading into the Euros, hosted in England next month. Denmark made their first appearance in the inaugural tournament in 1984 but have yet to claim the European title. They narrowly lost out in the 2017 final to the Netherlands.

They are currently ranked ninth in the European confederation by FIFA.

Despite the narrow defeat, Brazil will be looking ahead to defend their eighth CONMEBOL championship title in the Copa América. Brazil are ranked ninth in the world, and first in South America, having won seven of the eight Copa América trophies.

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