Although a record 29 nations entered the 1995 UEFA European Women's Championship, the contenders again looked like being the usual suspects - holders Norway, 1993 runners-up Italy, two-time winners Germany, inaugural champions Sweden, and England, whose new Premier League had improved standards.
Matches were increased to 90 minutes from 40 minutes each way, which coupled with the presence of so many entrants meant some lop-sided scorelines in the qualifying round. Germany managed 55 goals without reply in their six games, while Slovenia twice lost 10-0 to England and fell to a tournament record 17-0 defeat by Spain, eliminated by the English despite not losing a match.
Norway, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, England and Germany all progressed unbeaten, but two other sections were closer. Italy topped Group 6 throughout but were surprisingly beaten 2-1 at home by Portugal in their final game. That meant France could pip the Azzurre with a nine-goal win in Scotland three months later; as they could only manage a 3-0 success, Italy advanced. The final pool, Group 8, was won by Iceland on the back of a 1-0 victory in the Netherlands.
However, the Icelanders found life tougher in the quarter-finals, losing both legs against England 2-1. In a rematch of the 1993 final, Norway prevailed 3-1 in Italy and 4-2 in Oslo, while Germany followed a 1-0 victory in Russia with a 4-0 home triumph. The remaining tie saw Denmark and Sweden meet in their third quarter-final, having previously won one each. The Danes, successful in 1992, took the first leg 2-0 in Hjorring, but three first-half goals for Sweden in Malmo turned the tie and the aggregate ended at 3-2.
With the second FIFA Women's World Cup scheduled for the summer in Sweden, the semi-finals reverted to a two-legged format in the winter, with the final being a one-off game in March. Germany comfortably saw off England 4-1 in Watford and 2-1 in Bochum, but Sweden were involved in a thriller against old foes Norway.
Norway had overcome Sweden in the 1987 final and in the last four in 1989, and were striving to maintain a proud record of having reached at least the final in every edition. Despite falling behind three times in the first leg in Kristiansand, Anita Waage's last-minute goal gave them a 4-3 advantage. And when Linda Medalen put Norway ahead 28 minutes into the return, played a week later indoors in Jonkoping, it seemed things were going their way again.
However, the half-time introduction of attacker Lena Videkull signalled a change in fortune for the Swedes, who drew level through Ulrika Kalte eight minutes after the restart. The hosts sensed that Norway were vulnerable and strikes one minute either side of the hour from Videkull left Sweden in control. The substitute completed her hat-trick, and Sweden's victory, 14 minutes from the end.
A crowd of 8,500 gathered in Kaiserslautern for the final, and six minutes in Malin Andersson shot the Swedes in front. The home fans need not have worried, though, as Maren Meinert equalised just after the half-hour, and on 65 minutes a fresh-faced 17-year-old named Birgit Prinz gave Germany a lead they never relinquished.
Seven minutes from time Bettina Wiegmann made it 3-1, and although Anneli Andelen-Andersson pulled one back, Germany rebuffed Sweden's forward forays to claim a third European title. Meanwhile, there was some consolation for deposed champion Norway as they defeated Germany in Stockholm in June to become Europe's first Women's World Cup winners.
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.