England were given a stern challenge in their final warm-up game ahead of this summer’s European Championships. It took two goals from Ellen White to hand the Lionesses the win against a strong Denmark side.
Mark Sampson made 10 changes to the side that had performed impressively in Switzerland last month. The England manager has emphasised the importance of having all 23 players ready to play, as he did in Canada two years ago, and will have seen this as an important run out. Demi Stokes was the sole survivor as Ellen White took on the armband.
Denmark put pressure on the Lionesses right from the start and found their rhythm quickly in front of their fans. They play a very direct style of football that almost paid dividends on several occasions, especially at set pieces. England were looking a little rattled as half-time approached. However, a fine first-time finish from their skipper sent them in ahead at the break.
The Lionesses performed better in the second half as they pushed forward. They were creating promising situations but the ball was not sticking. Denmark were certainly worthy of a goal though and they equalised in the 66th minute with a Pernille Harder free kick that nestled perfectly into the top corner.
Conceding gave the Lionesses renewed energy and they claimed the winner 14 minutes from time. There was a touch of fortune to the goal when, under pressure from White, substitute Nicoline Sorensen rattled the bar with her clearance. The England striker reacted quickest to turn home the rebound.
It was a gritty performance and not the best that we have seen from this England side. But it is how teams react to these kinds of games that is important. Coming through with the victory shows the mental strength that they have built up and keeps up momentum going into a major tournament.
As for Denmark – they were very impressive and will be confident of being able to perhaps cause an upset in a tricky Group A.
England’s Player of the Match
Ellen White came out as the main contender for this accolade as she continues to underline her importance in this England squad. Her seemingly endless energy in pressing an opponent adds invaluable impetus to the side. Along with her two goals, it was a special day for the England striker who wore the captain’s armband for the first time.
A special mention, however, should go to Karen Carney who was a constant thorn in Denmark’s side in the first half with mazy runs and tricky footwork aplenty.
Denmark’s Player of the Match
Pernille Harder was the star of the show for the home side. Tricks, flicks and brilliant delivery set the tone for Denmark as they threatened the English defence on numerous occasions. Her free kick was the icing on the top of a very good performance that Denmark will hope will continue into Euro 2017.
Goal of the Game
Ellen White’s first goal to open the scoring was our goal of the game. Meeting Stokes’ low ball from the right, she hit it sweetly first time. It was so well placed that the Danish keeper, Stina Lykke, barely moved as it dipped past her.
Moment of the Game
This game was held with #Pride very present throughout the event. From the huge rainbow flag at the entrance to it replacing all four corner flags and the captains’ armbands, anti-homophobia was the theme of the day.
Our moment of the day, therefore, goes to the celebrations after England’s second goal when White ran over and planted a big kiss on Jo Potter. To have top England stars promoting LGBTQ rights on a central stage is so important and will only help to break down discrimination.
Thank you, Lionesses! We are certainly incredibly #ProudofourPride.