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Denmark stun China in 90th minute for winning World Cup return

Denmark players celebrate scoring the winning goal against China. Photo: Colin Murty/AFP

Denmark ended a 16-year Women’s World Cup absence with victory as a 90th-minute header from Amalie Vangsgaard broke China’s hearts in Perth on Saturday.

Vangsgaard soared highest to give Denmark a 1-0 victory and stun the crowd of 17,000 fans, most of whom were loudly supporting the Asian champions.

It was a significant victory for Denmark between two similarly ranked teams in Group C, which is headlined by contenders England. 

Led by dynamic 22-year-old Zhang Linyan, China had been the aggressors in a match that failed to live up to great heights until the dramatic ending.

Having been an early powerhouse in women’s football, finishing runners-up in 1999, China hoped a shock triumph at last year’s Asian Cup could fuel a return to their former glory. 

Star striker Wang Shuang surprisingly started on the bench, as an enterprising China dominated the early exchanges with their speed on the left wing rattling a nervous Denmark. 

But they were let down by poor finishing with their best chance from Zhang forcing Denmark goalkeeper Lene Christensen into a low save to her left.

Denmark, whose entire line-up comprised World Cup debutants, finally settled, with captain Pernille Harder assertive in her return from a hamstring surgery. 

But Denmark failed to penetrate a gritty China defence and their frustrations boiled over when Rikke Sevecke received a yellow card for shirt pulling just before half-time. 

Wang started after half-time and made an immediate impact, rifling a long-range shot only to be thwarted by Christensen.

The contest opened up as both teams pressed, but Denmark’s Josefine Hasbo missed a header in the 52nd minute with the goal at her mercy. 

Denmark pressed aggressively and it paid off when Vangsgaard stepped up in the dying stages.

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