Powerful Germany crowned champions again
Thursday, 10 September, 2009
Valiant England seen off as Germany win European Final
Stuart Mawhinney in Helsinki
Germany were crowned UEFA European Women's Champions yet again on Thursday night as the overcame England's challenge with a display of power and precision.
The German's, World and European champions coming into the Final, were strong favourites to make it fifth consecutive title in Finland, but didn't account for the determination of Hope Powell's side.
When they put two quick-fire goals past Rachel Brown inside 22 minutes, the Germans may have thought it was job done. But England fought back to make it 2-1 before half-time, then 3-2 early in the second half.
However, Germany's strength came through as they finally clinched the game, and the trophy, with three goals in 14 second-half minutes. But they didn't have it all their own way.
Eniola Aluko, playing from the left wing at the start, showed her pace with England's first attack.
Birgit Prinz then burst through on goal only for the mask-wearing Faye White to shepherd the ball back to Rachel Brown. Prinz fell to the ground but the referee waved away her appeals for a penalty.
Fara Williams went closest to opening the scoring with a trademark free-kick from 25 yards out. Striking the ball with the outside of her right boot, Williams whistled her effort inches wide of Angerer's goal.
Germany took the lead after 20 minutes with a sublime team goal. First Melanie Behringer found space on the right flank before feeding Inka Grings who played an instant reverse pass for Prinz who was lurking in the area.
Despite the best efforts of Alex Scott, Prinz got their first and guided the ball into the bottom corner to give Germany the lead.
Two minutes later Behringer doubled their advantage with a stunning strike from 30 yards. Brown was helpless to prevent the goal as it arrowed into the top corner.
England showed their grit and determination that have been a trademark of their tournament, scoring a fine goal just two minutes later.
Kelly Smith escaped Krahn before playing the ball through Angerer's legs to the waiting Carney at the back post who duly obliged.
Silvia Neid's side seemed surprised by England's resilience as they forced the issue despite going behind to two quickfire goals.
As the first-half came to a close it was England who enjoyed greater possession and created more opportunities to level the scores, but Germany held their one-goal advantage at the break.
Just five minutes of the second period had elapsed when Casey Stoney was called upon to make a last-ditch challenge to prevent Prinz scoring her second of the game.
From the resulting corner Germany did register their third of the game, but it was pinball in England's area as twice the ball cannoned bar off the post, Kim Kulig eventually tapping home after the scramble in the penalty area.
England refused to be beaten though as Kelly Smith struck a fantastic goal to again reduce the arrears. Aluko and Carney combined before the former Arsenal winger played a beautifully disguised pass to the unmarked Smith.
England's number ten turned and fired the ball home in one sweeping movement, showing all the qualities that got the Three Lions to this Final.
Williams then drove just wide with her left foot from 25 yards out, as England showed their remarkable spirit.
Germany had a fourth goal shortly after the hour mark, this time from the head of Inka Grings, as the contest became stretched. With Hope Powell's side desperately trying to level the scores, Grings stole in front of White to head into the roof of the net.
Alex Scott escaped an own goal as her attempted clearance struck the foot of the post with Brown stranded.
With 73 minutes on the clock Grings put the game beyond England with a well worked goal. It started from a mix up between Smith and Alex Scott, but once Prinz carried the ball all the way to the area there was little that could be done to prevent the goal, Grings curling the ball into the corner with her left foot.
Birgit Prinz then scored a tremendous goal as Germany did not pause in their attacking intent, driving the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box.
England sent on Lianne Sanderson and Emily Westwood to try and get back into the game, but the gap was too far and Germany triumphed for the fifth tournament in succession.