England cruise to Euro Final
Beth Mead scored twice as the Women's U19s beat Finland 4-0 to reach European showpiece
England sauntered into their fourth European Women’s U19 Championship Final in seven years courtesy of a comprehensive 4-0 win against Finland in Carmarthen.
Beth Mead lobbed Finland goalkeeper Vera Varis on 15 minutes to put her side ahead and Paige Williams doubled the lead from the penalty spot after Varis tripped Nikita Parris inside the box.
Mo Marley’s charges sealed a scintillating first-half performance with a third goal, Mead heading home a deep, right-wing cross from Martha Harris.
They weren’t quite finished, and midway through the second half Jess Sigsworth produced a wonderful finish from just inside the left-hand side of the box to put a gloss on a magnificent England performance.
The result secures the U19s another appearance in a Euro Final, following on from their predecessors’ success in 2009 which was sandwiched in between the runners-up spots in 2007 and 2010.
England started brightly, setting the tone for the rest of the match, with the excellent Williams firing an early drive straight down Varis’s throat, moments after Mead had been refused a penalty when she was bundled over by Emma Koivisto.
And it wasn’t long before they took a deserved lead, as Mead kept her composure to lift Williams’s chipped through ball over the on-rushing keeper after just quarter of an hour.
It might have got even better for Marley’s rampant young side when Parris latched on to Aoife Mannion’s long clearance up field. The Everton forward hit her shot with venom, but Varis produced a smart save.
England were in total control from the off and they barely afforded their opponents a touch of the ball as they put together a number of confident passing moves. It appeared only a matter of time before they would double their lead and the second goal duly arrived on 33 minutes.
Parris went in search of another finely-executed Williams through ball and she was felled by Varis just inside the box. Williams slammed home the subsequent spot-kick to give her side the advantage their supremacy deserved. It was Williams' second successful penalty inside three days, after her spot-kick against Denmark in the final group game.
A third goal arrived before half-time as Mead headed home Harris’s delicious cross from the right to give England a comfortable cushion at the break.
Almost as if to remind the Young Lions how one goal can change the nature of a game, Finland substitute Ilna Salmi forced Lizzie Durack into her first save of the evening immediately after the restart – and what a save it was, as the 19-year-old stretched every sinew to tip the left-foot shot against the bar.
Marley’s girls shook off that scare and soon regained control as Katie Zelem headed Williams’s cross just inches wide and Sigsworth saw her angled effort parried away by Varis at her near post.
The Doncaster Rovers Belles forward did get her name on the score-sheet when she curled home into the far corner from just inside the left-hand side of the area on 65 minutes.
Mead came close to signing off with a hat-trick in the closing stages, but the Sunderland hotshot could only drag the ball wide when put through by substitute Hannah Blundell.
It mattered not, however, and France, with whom England drew 0-0 in the group stage, now await in Saturday’s showpiece at Parc Y Scarlets in Llanelli.