Two headed goals from Laura Österberg Kalmari earned host nation Finland a thrilling victory against the Netherlands and a place in the quarter-finals of UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ as Group A winners.
In the meeting of the two Matchday 1 victors, Österberg Kalmari headed Finland into an early lead and then nodded the winner midway through the second half after Kirsten van de Ven had levelled for the Netherlands in the 25th minute after a superb solo run. Wednesday's result was a fair reward for the hosts, who picked up where they had left their much-improved second-half performance against Denmark.
From the start Finland looked confident on the ball and probed a sometimes hesitant Dutch defence. Their reward was not long in coming, with Petra Vaelma providing the cross from the right and Österberg Kalmari rising to send a looping header over Netherlands goalkeeper Loes Geurts.
Van de Ven strikes
Anna Westerlund nearly added a second for Finland after collecting the ball from Essi Sainio and unleashing a powerful angled shot from close range which Geurts did well to turn away for a corner. Another goal was clearly on the cards, the only surprise was at which end. Van de Ven, who scored on Sunday against Ukraine, picked up the ball from just inside her own half and was unchallenged as she ran into the penalty area, before dodging past defender Sanna Valkonen and threading a low shot into the left-hand corner.
Finland shrugged off the setback and were nearly in front again when Vaelma's shot from distance crashed against the crossbar and Österberg Kalmari's reflex follow-up effort just missed the target. Though the host nation were piling on the pressure, captain Daphne Koster was outstanding in the Netherlands defence.
Although Finland continued to press after the interval, just before the hour mark Manon Melis burst through on the break. A last-ditch tackle by Tiina Salmén was enough to take the sting out of the striker's shot and keeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela was able to gather.
However, Finland had posed an aerial threat from the flanks right from the begining of the game and that was how the winner arrived. Maiija Saari, whose free-kick had earned Finland their opening 1-0 win against Denmark, supplied the cross and Österberg Kalmari got to it first, sending the ball over the outrushing Geurts and defenders. Finland held off the ensuing Dutch rally and regardless of Saturday's result against eliminated Ukraine, will play a third-placed team in the last eight on 3 September in Turku. Denmark must beat the Netherlands on Saturday in Lahti to be sure of progress in second.
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