Thursday, 10 September 2009

Women football : England 2-6 Germany


England's hearts were left broken after a valiant display as Germany were crowned European champions in Helsinki.
The World Cup holders scored the opener with Birgit Prinz slotting in a clever Inka Grings pass and Melanie Behringer then struck a stunner from 41 yards.
Karen Carney pulled one back before Kim Kulig added a third after the interval.
Kelly Smith gave England hope with a fine strike but the Germans ran riot with two goals from the dazzling Grings and a long-range effort from Prinz.
it was always going to be a huge mountain to climb for England on a balmy night in Finland, facing a German team who had won the last four editions of this tournament, and six of the last seven.
But it was a bright start from manager Hope Powell's ladies, led brilliantly throughout by skipper Faye White, wearing a face mask after dislocating and fracturing a cheekbone in the quarter-finals.
Eniola Aluko proved a real menace down the left wing in the opening exchanges but after 19 minutes, not even White could prevent the opening goal from Germany's prolific striker.
Prinz, who amazingly had no goals to her name in this tournament before this clash, burst into the box and after collecting a clever pull-back from Grings she blasted the ball into the net.
The English women looked rattled and worse was to come with Behringer picking the ball up just past the half-way line and fired in the second to sting goalkeeper Rachel Brown's fingertips.
Memories of England's comeback from being 2-0 down against Russia last week flooded back as winger Carney poked the ball in at the back post after brilliant work from Smith who had dinked her way through three defenders.
Jill Scott almost nodded in the equaliser but the Germans struck back five minutes into the second period.
Annike Krahn's shot rebounded off the post and with the ball bobbling along the line, it fell to 19-year-old Kulig who poked in from 10 yards.
Still the English women, looking for their first ever win over the Germans in 18 meetings, would not lie down and it was another slice of Smith innovation who carved open the defence.
The Boston Breakers striker brought the ball down instantly from a Carney pass and the German keeper Nadine Angere was soon picking the ball out of the net after a fine strike from Smith.
Germany increased the tempo and grabbed their fourth with Grings heading in a smart cross from Kerstin Garefrekes.
England's heads went down and their legs looked increasingly and Grings was on target again after 73 minutes as she linked up well with Prinz to finish from the edge of the box.
It was cruel on the English as Germany turned on the style to fire in a sixth with Prinz crashing in her second.
Although Powell's brave and talented players were unable to match the efforts of Fabio Capello's team 24 hours earlier following their World Cup qualification, they can hold their heads up high after a very impressive championship.

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