HANGZHOU, China (AFP) - Brazil scored a last-gasp goal to book their place in the women's World Cup quarter-finals here Thursday, with their 1-0 victory crushing the dreams of a desperate Denmark.
Substitute Pretinha did the damage, scoring in the 91st minute after both sides came close in regulation time, to keep the South American powerhouse on course for their first title.
Denmark, whose campaign at this World Cup has been dogged by controversy, needed to win to keep their hopes alive, and are now out.
Brazil were virtually guaranteed of advancing before kick-off after securing enough points by earlier thumping minnows New Zealand and hosts China, to finish on top of Group D.
The fleet-footed Canarinha now take on Australia in Tianjin city on Sunday, after the Matildas qualified by drawing with Canada, also Thursday.
"We were so keen to win, but we lost a lot of chances, but we finally scored to win," said player of the match Daniela.
Coach Jorge Barcellos said he had lineup problems because he did not want three players, including Daniela, already on yellow cards to risk getting booked again and miss the quarter-final.
But he finally found the right combination after half-time.
With the 40,000-strong crowd chanting her name, masterful Marta was scorching for Brazil, often sprinting down the left wing leaving Danish defenders in her wake, to cross to teammates lurking nearer the goal.
Cristiane, whose relentless pace also caused problems, latched onto a lightning quick pass from Marta in the 14th minute but the 22-year-old forward miscued her shot which went wide.
Daniela should have scored on 20 minutes, when she found herself with space just inside the area, but fired over the bar.
But Denmark, ranked six in the world, also looked dangerous with several shots on target in the first half, as the Brazilian defence scrambled to clear danger inside the box.
Brazil came out firing in the second period, Marta launching a missile that goalkeeper Heidi Johansen flicked over the bar. She fired another that scraped the top of the woodwork on 55 minutes, bringing roars from the crowd.
But it was Pretinha, who came on after half-time, who ensured victory, latching onto a long ball on the right wing and lobbing her shot over an advancing Johansen.
Denmark assistant coach Per Nielsen praised his charges, saying they had plenty of chances.
"It was a great match and we put in an excellent performance but unfortunately we lost 1-0 but that's how it goes," he said. "I think we had our chances, no doubt."
Denmark's head coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller was sitting in the stands, serving a suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct earlier in the Cup.
The Danes have vowed to pursue an apparent spying incident that has dogged this tournament. Denmark were outraged to find two men, described as Chinese, with cameras hiding behind a two-way mirror ahead of the team's key tactical meeting before their clash with China.
FIFA insist the case is closed.
The South Americans, who have played in every World Cup since the tournament's inception in 1991, stormed to a third place finish in 1999 only to crash out in the first round in 2003.
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