From Brentford Community Stadium – Spain will face England in the quarter-finals of Euro 2022 after a 1-0 win over Denmark secured second place in Group B.
The Danes needed all three points in order to pip La Roja to the knockout stages, but ultimately didn’t trouble Spain enough when the going got tough and exit the tournament after three matches.
Denmark nearly sparked a quiet opening quarter of an hour into life when the returning Kathrine Moller Kuhl lobbed a searching pass over the top of the Spain backline, and Sandra Panos appeared to foul Pernille Harder on the edge of the penalty area, but no foul was given.
The Chelsea forward had another chance to break the deadlock moments later on the break, but her shot from a tight angle was held by Panos.
Janni Thomsen fell under a challenge in the box soon after but again Denmark’s appeals were ignored, while Spain had their first real chance when Mariona Caldentey’s looping header sailed just over Lene Christensen’s bar.
La Roja nearly took the lead when Athenea del Castillo muscled her way to the far post to meet a cross, but Christensen scampered across her line to deny the Real Madrid forward. Athenea was then denied a penalty seconds later after a challenge from two Danish defenders.
Caldentey forced Christensen into another low save after a neat move just inside the area, but the Danish stopper nearly spilled a Sheila Garcia cross into Athenea’s path, just about preventing a gift of a goal.
Substitute Olga Carmona and defender Mapi Leon both found the side netting after the break, while Harder fired over on a rare counter.
Nadia Nadim so nearly found the top corner with a quickly taken shot on the break, but Panos’s flying save denied her a go-ahead goal.
But Spain snatched all three points with stoppage time looming when Marta Cardona’s header from Carmona’s delicious cross found the back of the net to send their fans into bedlam and break Denmark hearts.
GK: Lene Christensen – 6/10 – Had a couple of nervy moments but was otherwise solid.
CB: Stine Ballisager Pedersen – 6/10 – Endured some rough periods dealing with Athenea though was largely fine.
CB: Simone Boye Pedersen – 7/10 – A rock solid performance at the back but it wasn’t to be for her side.
CB: Ricke Sevecke – 6/10 – Caught out on a couple of occasions but mostly did her job well.
RM: Janni Thomsen – 5/10 – Didn’t protect the backline from Athenea enough.
CM: Karen Holmgaard – 4/10 – Easily lost the midfield battle. Was lucky that her early giveaway of possession didn’t result in a Spain goal.
CM: Sofie Pedersen – 5/10 – Didn’t create a lot but wasn’t a huge detriment either.
LM: Katrine Veje – 4/10 – Pinned back a lot and it was hard to see why she started over Sofie Svava.
RF: Rikke Madsen – 5/10 – Worked hard but had little influence on the second half and was eventually hooked.
LF: Kathrine Moller Kuhl – 6/10 – Brought straight into the starting XI after being sent off against Germany. Provided great energy and often toyed with Batlle. Hooked for Troelsgaard.
CF: Pernille Harder – 6/10 – A great spark of inspiration, though spent long portions of the game without service.
SUB: Sanne Troelsgaard (LF, 58′ for Kuhl) – 4/10
SUB: Nadia Nadim (CF, 73′ for Thomsen) – 6/10
SUB: Stine Larsen (RF, 73′ for Madsen) – 5/10
SUB: Sara Holmgaard (LB, 80′ for Veje) – 5/10
GK: Sandra Panos – 6/10 – Lucky not to have been punished for her early challenge on Harder. Otherwise untroubled.
RB: Ona Batlle – 4/10 – Didn’t offer much at either end.
CB: Irene Paredes – 7/10 – Produced a great recovery challenge on Holmgaard in the opening 15 minutes. Spain’s best defender by a distance.
CB: Mapi Leon – 6/10 – No nonsense at the back and one of Spain’s better crossers, but did have the odd lapse in concentration.
LB: Leila Ouahabi – 4/10 – Booked for dissent and was clearly still angered by that decision. Subbed at the break.
DM: Patri Guijarro – 6/10 – Held her own but was hard to tell if this was more about the system and overall quality of the teams.
CM: Aitana Bonmati – 7/10 – Was at the heart of most of Spain’s stellar interplay.
CM: Mariona Caldentey – 6/10 – Got forward with intent but just couldn’t find a goal.
RW: Sheila Garcia – 6/10 – Fairly busy and got to the byline plenty. Was a surprise to see her hooked at the interval.
CF: Lucia Garcia – 4/10 – Very isolated and was less surprisingly brought off after the opening 45 minutes.
LW: Athenea del Castillo – 7/10 – A real live-wire and the creator of Spain’s best chances.
SUB: Esther Gonzalez (CF, 46′ for L. Garcia) – 5/10 – Had more of a presence than Lucia Garcia but the bar wasn’t very high.
SUB: Olga Carmona (LB, 46′ for Ouahabi) – 8/10 – More threatening than Ouahabi was and nearly found the net because of it. Grabbed the winning assist.
SUB: Marta Cardona (RW, 46′ for S. Garcia) – 8/10 – Technically very good and eventually found the winner.
SUB: Laia Aleixandri (LW, 80′ for Athenea) – 5/10