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Sweden held in Euro opening game

London, Jul 11 (Agencies)
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Published on 12 Jul. 2013 1:44 PM IST
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Hosts Sweden had two second-half penalties saved as they drew 1-1 with Denmark in their Euro 2013 opener.

Mariann Knudsen found the bottom corner to open the scoring for Denmark before Nilla Fischer headed in an equaliser.

In the second half, both sides had chances to take the lead, but Julie Rydahl Bukh could not finish and Lotta Schelin's spot-kick was saved.

Then, with six minutes left, Kosovare Asllani was also thwarted from 12 yards by Denmark goalkeeper Stina Petersen.

Earlier, Italy and Finland played out a goalless Group A draw. The Italians created the majority of the chances in a poor game, with Melania Gabbiadini and Alessia Tuttino going closest to breaking the deadlock.

Sweden and Denmark, however, offered far more quality in an entertaining game played in front of a close-to-capacity crowd of 16,128 at the lively and sun-bathed Gamla Ullevi stadium in Gothenburg.

Pia Sundhage's Swedish team, who are ranked fifth in the world and third favourites for the tournament, were the more direct of the two teams but having created the majority of the chances they will be disappointed with only one point.

They were superbly marshalled in midfield by Caroline Seger but Schelin, who has been billed a star of the tournament, was largely quiet before and after her penalty miss.

The hosts had plenty of other options in attack, though, and they could have been two goals to the good within three minutes as the otherwise impressive Asllani and Seger were off-target after good work from Josefine Oqvist.

Although Kenneth Heiner-Moller's Danish side were less of a threat in attack than their opponents, they went ahead when Knudsen waltzed around the Swedish defence after 25 minutes to strike a fine effort from 16 yards.

It silenced the partisan crowd but it seemed to galvanise the Swedish team, who levelled through Fischer 10 minutes later from a floated free-kick.

The hosts continued to push for another goal in the second half, leaving the Danes an opportunity to break on the counter attack, and in a scintillating passage of play after 65 minutes, both teams should have gone ahead.

Substitute Bukh was one-on-one with with Swedish goalkeeper Kristin Hammarstrom, but her attempted chip was expertly saved. Within a minute Sweden attacked and Asllani was brought down in the penalty area by Christina Orntoft. But Schelin's spot-kick was saved by Petersen's fine save diving low to her left.

Sweden's leading scorer then chose not to take the second penalty when Theresa Nielsen was penalised for handball, but Asllani suffered the same fate as her effort towards the Petersen's top right corner was beaten out.

 
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