Spain took a breath against Denmark. La Roja did not shine against the Danes, but they won. The Red game did not grow, but it scored. An achievement surely almost as important as the victory. Spain beat Denmark at the buzzer and qualified for the Euro quarterfinals, where the host, England, awaits next Wednesday (9:00 p.m., La 1). As against the Teutonics, the Red controlled the leather, not always the game. This time, however, he won in the areas: Sandra Paños erased the doubts and Cardona signed the 0-1 to sing the victory of Spain.
Lene Christensen, Simone Boye, Rikke Sevecke, Katrine Veje, Stine Pedersen, Janni Thomsen, Rikke Madsen, Kathrine Møller Kühl, Karen Holmgaard, Sofie Junge, and Pernille Harder
Sandra Paños, Ona Batlle, Leila Ouahabi, Irene Paredes, Mapi León, Athenea del Castillo, Aitana Bonmatí, Patri Guijarro, Mariona Caldentey, Sheila García and Lucía García
goals 0-1 min. 89: Martha Cardona.
Yellow cards Leila Ouahabi (min. 29) and Stine Larsen (min. 88)
The sacrifice of Denmark, a compact team that defended well, forced Spain to suffer until the end. Denmark was not fooling. Her card, the only one at least from the beginning, was Pernille Harder. And with Chelsea’s forward, the best player in Europe in 2018 and 2020, it was enough for the Danish team to scare the Red. Lars Sondergaard’s plan was clear, go back without the ball and look for Harder, long or short, when he was recovered. This is how Denmark was planted in the Sandra Paños area. Never without the hands or feet of the Barcelona goalkeeper watering Spain’s rear with tranquility. She controlled without problems Sandra Paños a cross shot from Harder as she was also attentive to go outside the area to cut a climb by the Dane. Security blow, essentially self-esteem, for Paños after being under the spotlight after the defeat against Germany.
For Jorge Vilda, in any case, Sandra Paños was untouchable under the three posts. Instead, the coach of Spain doubts and doubts about the person in charge of taking over from Alexia Putellas, who tore her cruciate ligament in the run-up to the Euro. Against Finland, she tried Irene Guerrero. She did not convince him. Neither did Patri Guijarro when he left his usual pivot demarcation to play inside against Germany. Against Denmark, the Spanish coach’s strategy was not only based on re-examining a new midfielder to accompany the untouchables Guijarro and Aitana (Mariona Caldentey played), he also sought to open the wings, with Sheila García and Athenea del Castillo.
The problem for Spain was that it was difficult to find Sheila and Athena to attack the space. And neither Mariona nor Aitana managed to break the rival walls. Denmark closed the passing lines well from four defenders and five midfielders, all well together, all attentive to catch divided balls. La Roja had the leather, but she moved it without speed. La Roja was associated in short, but did not risk long balls. Although the draw was enough for him jump the queue in the quarterfinals, Spain insisted on attacking Denmark. He did it with set pieces – it worked for him against Finland – until Athenea was activated. The winger, as short as she was spicy, began to risk one-on-one. Never, however, successfully to break behind the Danish.
And Jorge Vilda, how could it be otherwise, was not convinced by his girls’ game. And he didn’t hide it. Against Finland and Germany he was reluctant to shake the bench quickly (he made the changes after game time), but against Denmark he sent Marta Cardona, Olga Carmona and Esther González onto the field as soon as he returned from intermission. The Danes, meanwhile, did not move from their match script, not even when Spain began to take control, not only of leather, but also of chances. It was the Red, in the second half, the one that prowled Lene Christensen’s area. Carmona tried it, also Mapi León.
Then came the second part of the Danish coach’s game idea. Nadia Nadim and Larsen. And Denmark, at last, sheltered Harder. And the first thing the Danish 10 did was find Nadim in the box. Red breathed. Again, Sandra Paños appeared. And from area to area, Marta Cardona, at the close of the game, when the Danes had already run out of legs, she sealed the victory with a header. Spain breathed.
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