England reach Final
Sunday, 06 September, 2009
Jill Scott heads England into the Euro Final.
Jill Scott headed a dramatic extra-time winner as England’s women reached the Final of the European Championship for the first time since 1984.
Hope Powell’s side had dominated the game and fully deserved their victory but were made to work hard for it by their Dutch opponents.
It had looked as if England were well set when Kelly Smith gave them the lead just after the hour, but a lack of concentration allowed Marlous Pieete to equalise almost immediately.
But Scott rose highest with just five minutes left to ensure England will meet either Germany or Norway in Thursday’s Final.
England started like a team on a mission and unsurprisingly it was Smith who came to the fore, tormenting the Dutch defence with a series of mazy dribbles that demonstrated just why she is considered to be one of the best players in the women’s game.
Yet the Dutch team were proving to be obdurate opponents, demonstrating the same resolve that saw them stop France from scoring in their quarter-final, a game they eventually won on penalties.
England were growing increasingly frustrated as their opponents were content to sit back and soak up pressure.
But the breakthrough Powell’s side had been searching for arrived just after the hour when Eniola Aluko stole the ball on the edge of the area and drove towards goal before laying the ball back perfectly for Smith. The former Arsenal striker never looked likely to miss and duly drove the ball into the far corner.
Yet England then allowed their concentration to slip, conceding a soft equaliser just three minutes later. Manon Melis was given far too much time to measure a cross into the box and Pieete swept the ball home, giving Rachel Brown no chance.
As soon as they equalised the Netherlands were content to sit back and allow England to attack, but Powell’s side were unable to make their pressure count as the game went to extra-time.
Yet England should undoubtedly have been ahead four minutes into the first extra period when Karen Carney raced to the byline and pulled the ball back for Lianne Sanderson, who could only hit the bar from just six yards out.
It was all England by this point, and the decisive goal they fully merited came with just five minutes to go thanks to Scott.
The Everton midfielder had looked dangerous from set pieces throughout the game and rose highest to meet Carney’s corner and plant her header into the corner to spark scenes of delirious celebrations, both on the pitch and the touchline.