COPENHAGEN : Rasmus Hojlund netted a superb hat-trick as Denmark beat Finland 3-1 at the Parken Stadium on Thursday and get their European Championship Group H qualifying campaign off to a winning start.
Already missing playmaker Christian Eriksen due to an ankle knock, the Danes lost defender Andreas Christensen to a leg injury in the 18th minute, but the home fans were celebrating three minutes later as Hojlund struck the opener.
Martin Braithwaite spread the ball down the right and into the path of fullback Alexander Bah, and his cross was met brilliantly by Hojlund, who deftly steered it home to give his side the lead.
Finland struck back eight minutes into the second half with a typically swift and decisive counterattack, Teemu Pukki latching on to a flick-on before teeing up Oliver Antman to score.
Keeper Lukas Hradecky then took over for the Finns, pulling off a string of tremendous saves to deny Joakim Maehle, Mikkel Damsgaard and two efforts from Hojlund as the game looked to be heading for a draw.
However, the 20-yer-old Hojlund bundled home a header from close range in the 82nd minute to put his side back in front and then rifled home a stoppage-time shot to complete his hat-trick in his third international appearance, wrapping up the three points for Denmark.