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Germany 1 (Mittag 49) Norway 0
Germany are the European Champions for the sixth time in a row after a second half goal from substitute Anja Mittag gave them victory over a gallant Norway side in a dramatic Final at Solna.
However this did not tell the whole story as goalkeeper and captain Nadine Angerer saved a penalty in each half and both sides could have added further goals in an entertaining encounter played in front of a tournament record crowd of 41,301.
Going into the game as favourites, Germany went for an early strike and it almost arrived in the second minute. Dzsenifer Marozsan floated a free kick into the area and Nadine Kessler's looping header was touched onto the bar by Ingrid Hjelmseth.
Germany continued to dominate the early stages with Celia Okoyino da Mbabi dragging an angled shot wide whilst Hjelmseth also needed to make saves from Lena Lotzen and Marozsan. Norway hit back with their first effort on goal, a long range effort by Maren Mjelde which Angerer gathered at the second attempt low down, but da Mbabi passed up a great chance at the other end from a Marozsan corner but her free header clipped the woodwork and went wide.
After weathering the initial storm, Norway came into the game and enjoyed a period of domination of their own. They looked to have found a way through when Solveig Gulbrandsen played in Ingvild Stensland in the area but she was denied by an excellent block from Leonie Maier and Angerer was able to grab the loose ball.
Caroline Hansen was in lively form down the right with some dangerous runs but Norway could not fashion another clear chance until they were handed the best of opportunities on 29 minutes.
After a free kick had been half cleared, Cathrine Dekkerhus got into the area where, following minimal contact from da Mbabi, the midfielder fell theatrically to the floor and a penalty was awarded. It looked to have been a dive and justice was probably done when Trine Ronning stepped up to take the spot kick, fired her shot straight down the middle but Angerer, who have dived to her left, managed to deflect the ball over the bar with an outstretched leg.
Germany successfully defended the resulting corner and saw out the spell of Norway pressure and began to threaten themselves again with Kessler firing a couple of long range shots over the bar.
As a well contested first half drew to a close, both sides went for the opening goal. Hansen again made a good run into the area and cut inside Jennifer Cramer's challenge before dragging a left foot shot wide of the near post, then with the last attack of the half, da Mbabi laid off Simone Laudehr's pass into the path of Marozsan who drilled a powerful strike from the edge of the area but Hjelmseth pulled off a fine save.
Germany made a half time substitution with Mittag replacing Lotzen but it was Norway who produced the first strike on goal, Hansen firing a half volley over the bar.
Norway had made a lively start to the half but within four minutes of the restart, Germany struck a decisive blow. Laudehr picked up the ball in the left back position and her pass to the halfway line was touched off by Marozsan for Kessler whose pass released da Mbabi on the left. The striker drew two defenders towards her before rolling a perfectly weighted pass across goal for Mittag to place a first time shot past Hjelmseth from eight yards.
Germany immediately sought a second with Laudehr having a shot blocked and Hjelmseth saving from Cramer. Da Mbabi was to go even closer as she met a Marozsan corner with a powerful header but Stensland came to her side's rescue by heading off the line. The resulting corner ended with Leonie Maier producing a well struck left foot shot which was well saved by Hjelmseth.
After hanging on for several minutes, Norway came back on the attack and after speeding into the area, Hansen was tripped by a combination of Cramer and Saskia Bartusiak, leading to a second penalty being awarded. This time there was no disputing the award and a nervous looking Solveig Gulbrandsen took over the duty, but once Angerer proved to be an immovable barrier as she pulled off a superb save to her left.
Three minutes later, Norway perhaps knew it was not going to be their day when Mjelde overlapped and broke into the area and her low cross was turned into the net by Ada Hegerberg. Norwegian celebrations were cut short as the assistant referee, England's Sian Massey, had correctly flagged for offside against the teenage striker.
Still Norway pressed and again they went close, Ronning planting a long ball over the German defence and Elise Thorsnes, on as a substitute just four minutes earlier, did well to reach it under pressure from Annike Krahn and the onrushing Angerer and poked her shot goalwards but the ball bounced agonisingly wide of the post.
Germany began to ease the pressure, typified by a magnificent performance in midfield by Lena Goessling who broke up a number of attacks with important challenges. Marozsan was to go very close at the other end, a firm snap shot from the edge of the area which flashed into the side netting.
With seven minutes left, Germany had a great chance to make the game safe. Marozsan threaded a slide rule pass to release the brilliant Maier who made her way to the goal line and cut the ball back for Kessler but the midfielder scuffed her shot at goal and the ball struck the post before rolling away to safety.
Maier did more excellent work at the other end when she headed away a Mjelde cross under pressure from Kristine Hegland. Norway threw everything they could at Germany but their defence stood firm with the experienced duo Krahn and Bartusiak once again at the heart of things.
In the final minute of injury time, Hansen dragged a shot wastefully wide and Norway's last chance had gone. On the blowing of the final whistle, the German squad mobbed goalkeeping hero Angerer for her two penalty saves and it was fitting that she received the trophy from Michel Platini.
So an exciting tournament with many unpredictable results ended with a somewhat predictable finish - Germany as the usual winners and Norway once again the runners-up. However Germany will never have had to work as hard to win the trophy but, with a team packed full of very talented youngsters and more on the way, it is going to take a very special effort to end their domination of the European game.
Germany: Nadine Angerer, Leonie Maier, Jennifer Cramer, Saskia Bartusiak, Annike Krahn, Simone Laudehr (sub Bianca Schmidt 77mins), Lena Goessling, Nadine Kessler, Lena Lotzen (sub Anja Mittag 45mins), Dzsenifer Marozsan, Celia Okoyino da Mbabi.
Norway: Ingrid Hjelmseth, Maren Mjelde, Marit Christensen (sub Leni Kaurin 85mins), Ingvild Stensland (sub Ingvild Isaksen 76mins), Toril Akerhaugen, Cathrine Dekkerhus, Trine Ronning, Solveig Gulbrandsen (sub Elise Thorsnes 68mins), Ada Hegerberg, Caroline Hansen, Kristine Hegland.
(top) Germany captain Nadine Angerer about to lift the trophy watched by her delighted team mates
(middle) Nadine Angerer saves Solveig Gulbrandsen
(bottom) Two stars of the future - Maren Mjelde clears away from Lena Lotzen
Photos - www.jamesprickett.co.uk
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