Wales produced a vastly-improved performance in Viborg as they suffered a 2-1 defeat by Denmark in Group Three of League A in the Nations League.
Striker Amalie Vangsgaard gave the hosts the lead when she looped a header into the corner of the net.
Sofie Bredgaard doubled the Danish advantage before the break with a curling left-footed effort.
Jess Fishlock’s goal on 72 minutes set up a grandstand finish but Denmark were able to hold firm to earn the win.
Wales boss Gemma Grainger said pre-match that this is the toughest spell of her managerial career after Wales suffered their second successive 5-1 defeat in Sinsheim against Germany on Friday.
This performance – while not lifting Wales off the bottom of their group – underlined the progress the side has made in recent years as they proved extremely competitive against the group leaders and 12th-ranked side in the world.
Without injured duo Hannah Cain and Ceri Holland, who both started in Germany, and Rangers’ Rachel Rowe who was unable to travel, Grainger opted for the first time to change her formation, with Wales switching to a back five.
Ffion Morgan and Carrie Jones both came into the side to add some dynamism to the Wales attack on a freezing cold evening in Viborg and Wales were better in all aspects than they were in Germany.
Wales’ hopes of avoiding relegation from League A of the Nations League are likely to rest on their home clash with Iceland on 1 December, but there was a need to produce a better performance than in Sinsheim where hosts Germany had a whopping 35 efforts on goal.
The change in formation certainly added some solidity for Wales, but it was the hosts who looked more threatening in the opening exchanges.
Some wayward finishing helped Wales, with Vangsgaard and Sanne Troelsgaard missing the target after dangerous crosses, while Vangsgaard’s early effort from an acute angle was pushed away by Bristol City goalkeeper Olivia Clark.
However, having restricted the hosts for 28 minutes, Wales were once again undone by a cross and a header – their Achilles heel in this campaign – with Vangsgaard given far too much space to loop a header past the reach of Clark after Bredgaard’s cross.
Wales were unable to get a foothold in the game with the hosts in almost constant possession, and they fell further behind on 38 minutes when Angharad James was dispossessed by Mille Gejl who teed up Bredgaard to curl the ball home from the edge of the penalty box.
It took 43 minutes for Wales to muster a shot against the Danes, with Fishlock firing just over after some neat build-up play, but only an adroit stop by Clark denied Vangsgaard a second in first-half stoppage time.
Vangsgaard was within a whisker of adding a third Danish goal on the hour mark when she met Sofie Svava’s teasing cross, but her header clipped the crossbar before Josephine Hasbo’s deflected shot crept inches wide after striking Rhiannon Roberts’ arm.
The failure to award a penalty for handball kept Wales in the contest and they set up a grandstand finish on 72 minutes with a goal against the run of play as they capitalised on a Danish defensive error, with Sophie Ingle’s clever pass finding Fishlock, who made no mistake to slot home.
The goal prompted attacking substitutions from Grainger who switched to four at the back. After capitulating in the final 10 minutes of their previous two games, it was Wales who suddenly had some momentum, pressing Denmark higher up the pitch as they looked to steal an unlikely point.
A chance to force an equaliser did not arrive, but Wales will take heart from pushing the hosts and ending the contest on the front foot pushing for an equaliser.
- 21GejlSubstituted forHasboat 54′minutes
- 23SvavaSubstituted forMadsenat 71′minutes
- 4BredgaardSubstituted forHolmgaardat 86′minutes
- 6GreenSubstituted forEstcourtat 88′minutes
- 2WoodhamSubstituted forPowellat 76′minutes
- 23MorganSubstituted forHughesat 76′minutes
- 20JonesSubstituted forGreenat 66′minutes
- Sandra Bráz Bastos