Australia women lose to Denmark on defensive blunders in pre-Olympics friendly

Denmark players celebrate after scoring a goal against Australia in a friendly.
Denmark players celebrate after scoring a goal against Australia in a friendly.
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Ten minutes of defensive disaster left the Matildas in disarray as they lost 3-2 to Denmark in another blow ahead of the upcoming Olympic Games.

Teenage substitute Mary Fowler rifled home her first international goal for Australia in the dying minutes of Friday's clash in Horsens, while Clare Polkinghorne headed a second during stoppage-time.

But the damage had been done in the first half.

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The Matildas displayed plenty of promise in possession, but familiar defensive frailties again came to the fore as they twice conceded from corners early on.

The Aussies started brightly, yet somehow were 3-0 down by the 25-minute mark.

Bizarrely, Denmark recorded fewer shots on target than goals during the first half, with Australia twice putting the ball into their own net via Tameka Yallop and Mackenzie Arnold.

Yallop unluckily turned in an own goal on 15 minutes as the Matildas failed to clear a corner, and it was a similar defensive scenario minutes later as a loose ball from a corner was pushed home by Denmark's Rikke Sevecke.

Replays indicated the goal should have been ruled out for offside but the Matildas could have few complaints about the third as goalkeeper Arnold managed to fumble a regulation cross into the goal on 25 minutes.

Despite the scoreline it was a much stronger showing from a Matildas side who came into the match on the back of humbling defeats against Germany (5-2) and the Netherlands (5-0) -- the first outings under new coach Tony Gustavsson.

Sam Kerr had a goal ruled out for a narrow offside decision within minutes of kickoff, while Denmark goalkeeper Lene Christensen was soon forced into a double block from the Matildas skipper and then Hayley Raso on the follow-up.

Gustavsson continued to blood new players, giving debuts to Kyra Cooney-Cross, Courtney Nevin and Charlotte Grant, all of whom entered the fray at half-time.

It was a more settled display from the Matildas in the second period, although Danish superstar Pernille Harder came close to adding to the scoreline with her fierce strike crashing against the underside of the crossbar.

Kerr nearly opened Australia's account midway through the second half but her sharp close-range was expertly saved by Christensen.

The Matildas will have another opportunity to build ahead of group-stage clashes with New Zealand, Sweden and the United States at the Olympic Games with a match against Sweden on Wednesday morning Australian time.