Annica Sjölund proudly reflected on a "wonderful experience" at UEFA Women's EURO 2013 after a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Denmark proved insufficient to keep Finland off the foot of Group A and afloat in the tournament.
After last week's chastening 5-0 defeat by Sweden, Andrée Jeglertz's team were wincing once more in Gothenburg as Denmark orchestrated first-half proceedings with metronomic consistency. Indeed, the team in red and white – leading through Mia Brogaard's deflected effort shortly before the half-hour – looked in little danger of conceding until Annika Kukkonen's devious delivery dissected their scrambling ranks three minutes from time.
Predatory striker Sjölund needed no second invitation, darting towards the front post and planting a header beyond Stina Petersen. Parity momentarily felt like paradise, yet the cold reality that Finland would be heading home at the final whistle soon set in. "It was a fantastic ball from Annika, finding its target perfectly," said the 28-year-old. "I know I can always score when there is a chance to head the ball like that. It was a nice way to finish and some consolation to score our final and only goal of the tournament."
Having collected a single point from their opening two assignments, Finland's task was already mountainous before Tuesday's Group A decider. "It's hard to say what has cost us a place in the tournament, just minor details. But today, we pushed Denmark all the way, and one goal at the end would have given us a chance of reaching the quarter-finals," the Jitex BK player told UEFA.com.
"We look back on the Italy game, of course," she added of that goalless draw. "Winning that would have made all the difference and then we fell apart against Sweden. However, this is all history now and we can't do anything about it."
And while despondency may have been the overriding emotion in the Finland dressing room, Sjölund maintained that her experience in Sweden will be one fondly remembered. "I am very proud of the team, we gave ourselves a chance to win the game. We were very close in the end so that fills me with great pride. It’s always such a wonderful experience to play at the EUROs, it's a huge tournament so overall a great experience even though we didn't succeed in making it out of the group."
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