·1 August 2023
·1 August 2023
Pernille Harder’s first half penalty gave the Scandinavian side the advantage, before Sanne Troelsgaard sealed the win with a breakaway goal deep into stoppage time.
They will now face the Matildas in Sydney, and head coach Lars Søndergaard is looking forward to the challenge.
“I think [Australia] have a good team and I am looking forward to playing against them, but I don’t see – well rather I won’t say – if they have any weaknesses,” Søndergaard said in his post-match press conference.
“The whole nation is behind them and I think that will be important for them, but it could also be pressure when the game goes into the second half and it’s still 0-0.”
Søndergaard made two changes the team that lost 1-0 to England last week, bringing in Amalie Vangsgaard and Nicoline Sørensen. Haiti boss Nicholas Delépine made three changes to his side, as Chelsea Surpris, Melchie Dumornay, and Roseline Éloissaint came into the starting XI.
The Danes almost got off to the perfect start, finding the net after just three minutes. Following a corner, Katherine Kuhl knocked the ball to the right hand side of the penalty where Vangsgaard had space to shoot. Her powerful effort was straight at Haiti goalkeeper Kerly Theus, but the rebound fell kindly for Simone Boye, who smashed the ball into the empty net. It would have been the defender’s first goal for her country in her 181st match, but for the intervention of VAR, which deemed that she had been marginally offside just as Vangsgaard’s shot was taken.
Haiti had grown back into the game, and had a few good crossing opportunities but couldn’t make the most of them. However, after the ball struck Dayana Pierre-Louis’ dangled arm in her own penalty, Denmark were given another opportunity to take the lead. Harder took on the responsibility of the spot kick, and waited for Theus’ to jump to her left before calmly stroking the ball in the opposite direction and into the net.
Outrageous skill from Sherly Jeudy almost brought about a leveller for the CONCACAF side. The forward deftly flicked the ball through the legs of Rikke Marie Madsen before sliding the ball across the six yard box. The cross was slightly behind Nerilia Mondesir, and despite an improvised attempt, she couldn’t make enough contact on the ball to direct it on target.
Mondesir then missed a brilliant chance to equalise when she was released into the penalty area with just Lene Christensen to beat. She aimed for the near post, but the Rosenborg goalkeeper got down well to hold onto the strike.
Harder briefly thought she had doubled her tally, but once again the goal was ruled out for offside. This time it was a much clearer margin, with three Danish players all caught out by Haiti’s defensive line.
In the second half, Vangsgaard could easily have extended Denmark’s lead as she ghosted in at the near post to meet Sørensen’s cross, but her effort from the corner of the six-yard-box looped over the crossbar.
Haiti were able to build some momentum after winning a number of set pieces, one of which nearly resulted in an equaliser. Batcheba Louis threw herself at an in-swinging free-kick, but Christensen managed to make the stop from point-blank range.
Five minutes from the end, there was a big moment of controversy. Substitute Signe Bruun broke free of the Haiti defence and bore down on goal. Theus came out to meet her with a sliding challenge, winning the ball but receiving a kick to the ankle in the process. Whilst she stayed down 25 yards from her own goal, Denmark worked the ball out to right flank, and Mille Gejl crossed the ball towards the back post, where Harder was waiting to convert into an empty net. As the Danish team celebrated, Haiti’s players and staff were furious that a foul had not been awarded. Whilst Theus received treatment, VAR called referee Hyeonjeong Oh over to the pitch-side monitor to review the play. After a number of replays, she determined that had in fact been a foul on Theus, and chalked off the goal.
Gejl should have sealed the deal as the match entered 11 minutes of added time. She was released down the left wing, with 20 yards of space around her. She drove into the penalty area with just Theus to beat, but the Haitian goalkeeper produced another fine save to keep her team in the contest.
Eventually Denmark did find their second goal, and it came from substitute Troelsgaard. The 34-year-old was released through on goal before sliding the ball into the far corner of the net, to secure Denmark’s safe passage into the Round of 16.
Lars Søndergaard, Denmark head coach:
“It was a difficult match. They don’t play like the normal European teams. They have players with the individual skills you have to be aware of and you have to take care of. We started very well and then after getting the lead they put even more people upfront – quick players with fantastic skills.
“I’m really proud of the team and the way they stand together and they fight for each other. You see in situations in front of their own goal they throw themselves in front of the ball. I think it’s no coincidence that we don’t concede many goals. Normally they say a good defence wins championships, and I hope that is true.
“[Australia’s] performance against Canada was perfect in a way which shows that you have to be aware of what they can do. They got confidence from that game so they will be better than the first two games. But still, that game against Nigeria – I watched from the Fan Zone in Sydney – they had most chances, they had the ball the most. Of course, they made some errors at the back, because they were nervous, because they didn’t score the goals.”
Pernille Harder, Denmark captain:
“I’m so proud of the team that we made it through. It’s been a long time since a Danish team did that at a World Cup so I couldn’t be more proud of the girls because we’ve put in a lot of hard work. I am now also excited for the next game.
“Australia are a good team. It will be a full stadium with a lot of Australians inside so it will be an experience for us and something I am looking forward to. I think I will just imagine that they are cheering on Denmark instead of Australia.
“It’s been a long time since we even got to a World Cup, and now we’re here and in the Round of 16. It’s big for us and that’s why I am so proud of the whole team and staff. Of course we are also hungry for more now we are here. We want to do everything we can to win.”