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Norway hold nerve to reach Final
 Women's Football News 25 Jul 2013
Norway hold nerve to reach Final - 25 Jul 2013 - Women's Football NewsNorway 1 (Christensen 3) Denmark 1 (Knudsen 87)
Norway won 4-2 on penalties

Norway will play Germany in the UEFA Women's Championships Final for the fourth time after goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth saved two penalties to end Denmark's hopes in a shootout. 
It was an unfortunate end for the Danes whose enterprising football had seen them do the vast majority of attacking against a Norwegian side which had looked content sitting on a one-goal lead which had been given to them early on.
Norway sought to take early advantage of any Danish sluggishness following their penalty shootout victory over France three days earlier and were rewarded with three minutes on the clock. Ingvild Stensland's inswinging corner was not dealt with by Stina Petersen or the Denmark defence and the ball was bundled in off Marit Christensen for the opening goal.
It could have been two shortly afterwards from another Stensland corner but Solveig Gulbrandsen could not generate enough power in her header and this time Petersen saved comfortably.
Denmark began to settle down and passed the ball around well but Norway, with five players across midfield, worked hard to deny them space. Pernille Harder tried her luck with a long range effort which was saved by Hjelmseth but Denmark's most dangerous moments were coming from the tricky Katrine Veje who sent in a number of good crosses but were well dealt with by Christensen and Trine Ronning.
When Norway did show some attacking intent, they demonstrated the talent they had, none moreso than Ada Hegerberg who almost repeated her brilliant quarter final goal when turning past Christina Orntoft and unleashing a left foot shot which struck the top of the bar.
The pattern of the match continued at the start of the second half although Denmark did go close when Veje's cross was headed down by Julie Rydahl Bukh for Mariann Knudsen whose shot was just wide. Harder dragged a shot wide from distance but Denmark did not allow their frustrations to grow.
Knudsen was looking the likeliest and she sent another header past the post. Denmark introduced Johanna Rasmussen and Nadia Nadim as substitutes and they gave their side fresh attacking impetus but still they could not find a way through.
Then came a chance for Norway to put the result beyond doubt with ten minutes remaining. Gulbrandsen carried the ball towards the Danish defence and slipped an inch perfect pass into the path of Caroline Hansen who tried to lift the ball over Petersen but was denied by a point blank save.
Back came Denmark and a sharp shot on the turn by Veje brought out an excellent diving save from Hjelmseth. For all their patient, probing football it was the direct route which finally brought an equaliser with three minutes left. Katrine Pedersen pumped a long free kick into the area and Christensen could not clear properly under pressure from Emma Madsen, Knudsen taking full advantage by climbing above Ronning to head home from close range.
Despite obvious fatigue from playing extra time for the second time in four days, Denmark continued to press but it was Norway who fashioned the clearest chance via a great move. Gulbrandsen and Cathrine Dekkerhus combined to set up Elise Thorsnes whose well struck shot wsa kept out by a good save from Petersen.
The skilful Nadim was causing a number of problems to the Norwegian defence and they once again had the majority of the play but could not find a way through and found themselves facing a penalty shootout once again.
This time it was Norway who got off to a good start with Hjelmseth making saves from Line Roddik and Theresa Nielsen, while Gulbrandsen and Dekkerhus both scored. Nadim pulled one back before Maren Mjelde kept the two-goal advantage, Brogaard kept Denmark's hopes alive leaving Ronning with the chance to make the game safe. She duly completed a quartet of excellent penalties to send Petersen the wrong way and Norway were in the Final. 
Norway: Ingrid Hjelmseth, Maren Mjelde, Marit Christensen, Ingvild Stensland, Toril Akerhaugen, Ingvild Isaksen (sub Cathrine Dekkerhus 63mins), Trine Ronning, Solveig Gulbrandsen, Ada Hegerberg (sub Emilie Haavi 80mins), Caroline Hansen (sub Elise Thorsnes 58mins), Kristine Hegland.

Denmark: Stina Petersen, Theresa Nielsen, Janni Arnth (sub Johanna Rasmussen 67mins), Christina Orntoft (sub Emma Madsen 82mins), Line Roddik, Mariann Knudsen, Katrine Pedersen, Julie Rydahl Bukh (sub Nadia Nadim 67mins), Mia Brogaard, Pernille Harder, Katrine Veje.


(top) Ingvild Isaksen holds off Katrine Veje
(middle) Ingrid Hjelmseth saves Theresa Nielsen's penalty
(bottom) Norway celebrate while Denmark are desolated

(Photos - www.jamesprickett.co.uk)

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