England lose out in Euro 2009 final

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles

Women's football

The elation of a nation was deflated soon after Fabio Capello’s men secured qualification to South Africa 2010 with their 5-1 drubbing of Croatia.

The attentions of the FA and fans across the country turned to the Women’s Euro 2009 final, with England facing arch-rivals Germany.

Germany began the tournament in Finland as reigning world and European champions. It was an unenviable task for any team to try and knock them off their perch.

Meanwhile England was seeking an historic first international success. Indeed England had not successfully navigated a passage to the final since 1984 when current England manager Hope Powell suffered disappointment at the hands of Holland.

A quarter of a century later, Powell masterminded England’s second appearance in a major tournament final.

After a shaky start resulting in a shock defeat to Italy, victory over the Czech Republic and a draw with highly fancied Sweden saw England progress from the group stages.

A pulsating encounter with the hosts ended 3-2 in England’s favour, setting up a clash with Holland for a place in the final.

An early Kelly Smith goal was cancelled out by a Marlous Pieete strike. A tense affair was settled by a Jill Scott header deep into the second half of extra time, booking their place in the final.

England were under no illusions about the difficult task that lay ahead in the final. A 0-0 draw with Germany in the 2007 World Cup group stages had provided a shred of hope for the ladies.

In reality they faced an uphill struggle.

The two sides had met on 19 occasions with Germany victors every time with the exception of two valiant draws on the part of the three lions.

It would take an England side firing on all cylinders to snatch a sixth consecutive European Championship title away from the Germans.

Prinz fired the Germans into an early lead after 19 minutes after Grings sent a low cross into the box. Three minutes later the pre-match favourites doubled their lead.

A wonder strike from Melaine Behringer soared past England’s keeper Rachel Brown. Simply unstoppable, it left the underdogs looking decisively dejected.

But the frantic scenes weren’t over.

A minute later, a determined run inside the box from Kelly Smith teed up Karen Carney with the simplest finishes.

Five minutes into the second half the Germans reinforced their lead. Confusion in the England defence saw the ball land to Kim Kulig who poked the ball past Brown.

England struck back almost immediately. A through ball found Smith. The striker controlled well and produced a Rooney-esque turn, beating the German defender and clinically shooting into the right corner.

But it wasn’t long before the Germans had the safety of their two goal cushion once again. Kerstin Garefrekes beat left-back Casey Stoney. Her whipped cross was met by Grings who glanced a shot over Brown.

Six minutes later the game was effectively ended as a contest. Prinz raced down the right wing, setting up Grings to score her sixth goal of the tournament.

A disappointing end to a promising European Championships was compounded by when Prinz sealed her brace to sink England to a 6-2 defeat.

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