The second semi final was contested between the two time champions Norway, and the team that has failed to win a game inside 90 minutes. Going into the game, the Norwegians were slight favourites because they are unbeaten and comfortably got through the last round. Not to mention their 1-0 victory over the Germans.
On the other hand, Denmark only got two points from their group and scraped through the quarter final by beating France in a penalty shoot out. Could their potentially be a replay of when the men’s team won in 1992?
It was the favourites who took an early lead from a corner. Stensland whipped a ball in which completely missed plenty of defenders until it bounced off Christensen’s chest into the net. It was Denmark’s keeper, who has been praised after her performances this competition, who didn’t get anywhere near it.
Shortly after the goal, another Stensland corner caused problems for the Danish back line. The ball in was met by the goalscorer Christensen, it then fell to Gulbrandsen who headed towards goal but there wasn’t enough power to test Petersen.
However, it wasn’t all Norway because Denmark had a couple of chances on the counter and it was Harder who was at the centre of it all. Harder found space to run into and from 30 yards out she struck the ball with plenty of power but it was straight at the Norwegian goalie. Harder continued where she left off from the France game and dictated her sides attacks.
Denmark were playing well but they just couldn’t deal with any of Stensland’s corners. Every single corner was put into the box with the right pace and accuracy. In the opening quarter of the match it was Norway who had the better of the chances, but Denmark were getting closer to a goal the longer the game went on.
Yet again the Danes were tested by a corner which they managed to clear only as far as Hegland on the edge of the box who tried to dink it over Petersen, but it was always rising. Another Norway chance came minutes later when Hegerburg was given the ball, she managed to turn away from her marker to get her shot away, and she was unlucky that it smacked off the bar.
I think that Hegerburg is a great young prospect for Norway because she is only 19 and is already performing well at the highest level. She is technically gifted and she can definitely strike a ball, I can see her spearheading the Norwegian team for years to come.
It was a good game from a tactical point of view because it was a midfield battle, and when it broke for either side it came up with a great chance with Denmark starting to attack more than their opponents. Harder and Veje were their best players going forward. Harder was doing the work down the middle and Veje was constantly beating her marker down the left hand side and putting a variety of ball in the box.
Towards the end of the first half, Norway were looking as if they were going to settle for a one goal lead and their only real chances came through Hegerberg. Denmark were looking the more threatening team but they didn’t really test Hjelmseth. The positive for Denmark was that their build up play was top class and it tormented their opposition.
The start of the second half both teams carried on from where they left off. The build up play continued to cause problems for the Norwegians who didn’t look as if they were showing enough passion. It was only Hegerberg who looked as if she wanted to get another goal.
The Danes had a great chance just after the 50 minute mark following a Knudsen shot which flew past the post. They were definitely knocking on the door, with lots of balls into the box and it was a big let off for Norway.
On the counter, Norway came close to sealing their place in the final when Gulbrandsen played in the number 10 who was through on goal. Hansen tried to chip it over Petersen but she made herself as big as possible and she made a great save to keep her team in the game.
Denmark were back on the attack with more balls into the box and they took a different direction in they way they played. They didn’t use the tika-taka style as much and used a more direct approach. As the game got older, Kenneth Heiner Moller started to look nervous because he knew the longer the game it went on he knew that Norway would grow in confidence.
Thorsnes wasted a great opportunity for her country after she scuffed a volley from inside the box and it was sliced wide. She had plenty of time to think where she wanted to put it but she was crushed under the pressure. Thorsnes had a chance to redeem herself but from 40 yards it would have taken something spectacular to score. She put plenty of power behind it but it was always going to go over the bar.
Denmark were having more of the chances but inside the final 15 minutes they tried to score from distance. The couldn’t get behind the defence and get a shot in from inside the box.
Stensland came ever so close to putting her team through to the final with under 10 minutes to go. She found herself in space and she had time to decide where to shoot, she chose to curl it round Petersen but there wasn’t even bend so it fizzed wide.
As it headed closer and closer to stoppage time, Denmark were starting to get desperate and were going route one. A late chance came from their best player on the night, Veje, who smacked a shot from a few yards out but the keeper got behind it.
There was finally an equaliser which did come from a high ball into the box which caused lots of problems. The long ball was headed on to find Knudsen who timed her jump to perfection and head her country back into the tournament. Once the goal had been scored, it was Denmark who had all the momentum and were searching for a late, late winner.
Luck was on the Danish side. They refused to give up and got their reward to continue for at least another 30 minutes.
It was Denmark who started extra time the brightest but when they put crosses in, most of them were poor due to their lack of energy. The situation was made worse because they had gone all the way in their last match.
However, the best chance of the first period came for Norway when a Barcelona style play created a chance for their number 9 whose powerful effort forced Petersen to go down low to her right hand side.
It was getting increasingly likely that it would go down to the dreaded shoot out. Everything in the game had gone down a level simply because every single player was tired but Denmark were showing the most passion and they looked determined to get to the final.
Whereas the Norway players looked content for it to go to penalties because they didn’t create many chances and hit on the break occasionally. Germany would be enjoying this because although Norway did beat them earlier in the competition, they didn’t show anything that could threaten the Germans.
A great chance for Denmark came from the free kick which was from the edge of the area, if it was was closer it would have been a penalty. It was curled by the left foot of Roddik who got it up and over the wall, although it did beat the goalie it hit the side of the net.
The last chance of extra time came from a corner which was whipped in across the face of goal but it somehow failed to hit anybody before going out of play. How didn’t Norway score?
Going into the shoot out, it was surely Denmark who were the favourites because they had done it all before. The question was would Petersen repeat her form from the last shoot out?
It was the Danes who were up first and the pressure was on Roddik who had her penalty saved. The first penalty taker for Norway was Gulbrandsen who scored.
This is how the other penalties happened:
It was Norway who won the shoot out after four flawless penalties. Petersen was nowhere near any of them and her team mates crumbled under the pressure. Denmark’s luck ran out and the fairytale of their competition came to an end.
I did want the Danes to go through but at the same time I would have quite liked for Norway to go through because they would pose the bigger threat against Germany. I don’t think that if Denmark made it through, that they would have gave the Germans a challenge.
I think that Germany will win the competition for a sixth time in a row but it will be a tough game. I predict a tight 2-1 in the favour of Germany.