Netherlands Stifle Lionesses Roar to Meet Denmark in Final

The hosts beat England 3-0 in an impressive performance that saw the Lionesses roar mightier than their bite. Meanwhile, debutantes Austria lose to Denmark 3-0 on penalties despite a gutsy attacking performance.

England have now lost at the semi-final stage in the last two major tournaments. The Dutch have produced some excellent displays of attacking football out wide with real quality crosses coming in to trouble their opponents. England’s captain Steph Houghton was caught out by a magnificent Jackie Groenen cross that allowed Vivianne Miedema to head home after 22 minutes. A sell-out, largely Dutch crowd were delighted. England responded shortly after with Jade Moore’s header being deflected onto the post and Houghton’s long range free kick going marginally wide. Other than that it was a comfortable first half for the Netherlands as England struggled to hold onto the ball, sat back too deep and played like the “long ball” team that their opponents have been calling them for some time now. England looked one dimensional and bereft of ideas.

Around 15 minutes into the second half a poor Fara Williams’ header eluded every England shirt in the area and allowed Danielle van de Donk to nip in quickly and nick the ball past Siobhan Chamberlain. Individual errors costing England again as the Netherlands took a commanding 2-0 lead. Commanding despite Shanice van de Sanden and Lieke Martens being kept fairly quiet for large periods of the game. Luckily for the Netherlands Danielle van de Donk was in inspired form and she ran that midfield alongside Groenen. England’s misery was finally put to an end when Marten’s shot was deflected in for an own goal in injury time.

Denmark however, finds themselves celebrating a hard fought victory over the hard working Austrians. It could have been a very different game if Sarah Puntigam hadn’t of fired over her penalty in the first half though. The first half was where all of the action was. Despite Austria looking the better side Denmark still created chances. In the 20th minute, Sanne Troelsgaard came close to equalising for the Danes but her shot came back off the crossbar. Nothing much happened in the way of clear cut opportunities for both sides until the 54th minute as Nadia Nadim’s header was flicked on by Simone Boye Sørensen who met Manuela Zinsberger in watchful mood and inspired form. Just seven minutes later Danish captain Pernille Harder found herself in space in the Austrian penalty area but her shot was well saved by Zinsberger. Even by this stage, it looked like the kind of game that would go to extra time and penalties. Neither team were able to break the deadline in normal time, nor were they able to break it in extra time either. Harder’s effort at the end of extra time from a Katrine Veje corner was powered wide as both teams prepared themselves for the dreaded spot kick scenario. Austria missed all of the penalties that they took with Stina Lykke Petersen saving two out of those three.

The Austrian fairy tale is now over and the Lionesses unwillingly continue England’s long awaited major trophy at senior level. In their stead, the Netherlands and Denmark will battle it out on Sunday at 16:00 UK time.

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