Australia have fallen to their third defeat in three games but fought until the end.
The CASA Arena in Horsens hosted the friendly between The Matildas and the in-form Denmark for an engaging and at time bizarre encounter.
Australia entered the game coming off two losses , Denmark sit atop their Euro 2022 qualifying group with 48 goals in 10 games.
The Matildas welcomed back a host of regular players and it showed from the early stages. Gustavsson started with an attack of Caitlin Foord, Hayley Raso and Kyah Simon in support of Sam Kerr.
The home side was on the back foot early, Australia pressed hard and defended from the front.
Early chances were created for Kerr and Simon but not converted. An attempt from the outside of Simon’s boot was one of the better chances but Christensen in the Danish goal was well positioned.
Up the other end, the Australian goalkeeper was not so lucky. After dominating the first 10 minutes a Denmark free kick was whipped in and deflected in by Tameka Yallop.
It was an unfortunate own goal by a player who had otherwise been hugely impressive.
Denmark kept the punches coming while the Matildas were reeling and scored another two goals in quick succession. The second arrived in the 21st minute, a corner from the left bounced around off defenders on the goal line before being belted home by Svecke.
In the 25th minute, a cross sent in by Sorenson was fumbled over the line by Mackenzie Arnold. In a period of 10 minutes, Australia had conceded three times and concerns of another thrashing were unavoidable.
As the game worse on, The Matildas regained composure, Van Egmond and Yallop regained control of the midfield and Kyah Simon was unlucky not to pull one back after Foord’s square ball was cut out.
The introduction of Mary Fowler at half time resulted in just reward for a game in which the Matildas deserved a goal.
Unlike the previous two games, Australia had no trouble creating chances, Kerr was on target twice in the second half but to no avail.
In the 87th minute the ball fell to Fowler on the edge of the area, the youngster did not hesitate and rifled the ball home into the top corner off her left foot with a stunning finish.
Australia continued their pressure and pulled another back through Clare Polkinghorne. The central defender headed home after meeting a pin point Emily Gielnik cross.
Australia had the last chance of the game, Beattie Goad’s shot was well saved by a relieved Christensen to the relief of the home fans as the final whistle blew.
Its loss to Gustavssson’s Matildas but there was a lot to like about this performance. There was a clear gameplan, an ability to create chances and options off the bench.
Speaking to the media before the game, Gustavsson referred to the bench as “game changers.”
Despite the defeat, Australia showed composure and fluidity not seen against Germany and The Netherlands.
A vulnerability from set-pieces remains and the next game against third-ranked Sweden will be a sterner test, but this was a welcome improvement.