Aluko double sees England into semis
Thursday, 03 September, 2009
Eni Aluko and Fara Williams were the heroes in Turku.
Eniola Aluko's impressive double led England into the semi-finals of the UEFA Women's European Championship, with a 3-2 win over hosts Finland in Turku.
The Saint Louis Athletica striker struck in the 14th minute before Fara Williams doubled the lead just after the break.
Finland battled back and caused all sorts of confusion in the England backline, but Aluko's superb solo effort in the 67th minute was a fitting deciding goal.
Hope Powell's side now face a last four clash against either Holland or France, who face each other tonight at the Tampere Stadium.
It is the first time England have reached the semi-finals of the European Championship since 1995 and the result extends the remarkable record of no senior men's or women's England side ever losing to Finland.
It was a frenetic start in Turku in front of a partisan home crowd, but England took the lead in the 14th minute when Aluko broke Finland's offside trap and calmly slotted through goalkeeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela's legs after a neat passing move involving Kelly Smith and Williams.
The game then settled down and there was little action of note in the remainder of the first period until Finland centre back Jessica Julin headed just wide from six yards in the 39th minute.
The Three Lions came out for the second period with far more purpose and Kelly Smith started pulling the strings as they dominated both possession and territory.
The advantage was doubled just four minutes after the restart when Williams, who took over the captain's armband from the injured Faye White, reacted sharply and stabbed home from inside the six yard box after Sue Smith had swung in a dangerous free-kick.
The hosts appeared to come back into contention when substitute Annica Sjolund poked over the line in the 66th minute after England failed to deal with a corner.
But directly from the restart, Aluko picked the ball up just outside the centre circle and drove at the Finish defence, storming through three challenges and smashing home her third goal of the tournament.
England just couldn't shake off Michael Käld's side though and Finland grabbed a second in the 79th minute through Linda Sallstrom's close range header from yet another corner.
Powell also had goalkeeper Rachel Brown to thank for two impressive saves from Laura Osterberg Kalmari in the final minutes as the visitors desperately hung on for the win.