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Reporters' pick of UEFA Women's EURO 2013

Published: Monday 29 July 2013, 9.20CET
Germany are champions after what by common consensus was the best UEFA Women's EURO ever, and UEFA.com's English-language reporters select their top memories.
by UEFA.com reporting team
from Sweden
Reporters' pick of UEFA Women's EURO 2013
It was a colourful and hugely popular tournament ©Sportsfile
 

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Published: Monday 29 July 2013, 9.20CET

Reporters' pick of UEFA Women's EURO 2013

Germany are champions after what by common consensus was the best UEFA Women's EURO ever, and UEFA.com's English-language reporters select their top memories.

Chris Burke: Lots of luck
They say you do not beat a team on paper, but try telling that to Denmark. For me, the drawing of lots to determine whether Denmark or Russia would advance as the eighth quarter-finalist was an unforgettable moment of ersatz theatre. Never was the press conference tent at Nya Parken – where the Russians had just faced Spain – so animated, never had the air seemed so thin, chased out by nervous energy. At the back of the room, the entire Russia squad bit their nails, clenching each other.

Even Spain had piled in to sample the drama, but the slip of paper drawn from the bowl said 'Denmark' – and all the murmuring gave way to a solitary whelp of delight from the Danes' assistant coach Søren Randa-Boldt. Despondent, the Russians took their first steps home – and everybody else caught their breath.

Sam Crompton: Asllani? Absolutely
An emphatic Sweden win, a pair of unerring finishes from poster girl Lotta Schelin, and Pia Sundhage's exuberant post-match lap of honour all caught the imagination of a passion-filled home crowd in Halmstad. However, it was Kosovare Asllani's virtuoso display in the quarter-final dismantling of Iceland that left a lasting impression on me.

The Paris Saint-Germain FC forward intrigued with and without the ball, finding pockets of space to exchange intricate passes with sidekick Schelin. A dashing run and pinpoint cross teed up her strike partner's opener. Asllani later crowned a regal performance with a judiciously weighted pass for Schelin to score the fourth. At 23, you could say the best is yet to come ...

Sujay Dutt: Hosts sent home
The scene was Gamla Ullevi in Gothenburg. Sweden had just been knocked out by a sole German goal in a semi-final that had everything – except for a happy ending for the Swedish team and fans. The past weeks of flamboyant football had forged a bond between the players and men, women and children all over the country. As Caroline Seger, Schelin and others collapsed on the turf, they were soon lifted to their feet again by a standing ovation from the packed stadium; an indication this team and these fans are aiming for happier endings ahead.

Ben Gladwell: Swedish sun
The sun shines on the great occasions and UEFA Women's EURO 2013 in Sweden was no exception. "We've never experienced a summer of weather like it," was the most commonly repeated phrase when talking to local organising committee members. It was therefore not only the football which warmed the host nation as incessant sunshine played its part in a memorable tournament.

It was particularly touching to see such enthusiasm with hordes of fans travelling not only from the geographically close-lying nations such as Germany, Denmark and Norway, but also from nations further afield such as Italy, setting and breaking new crowd records along the way. The final tournament really did live up to its 'Winning Ground' slogan, and the women's game is richer for it.

©Sportsfile

Caroline Hansen (left) against Iceland

Wayne Harrison: Norway's youthful vigour
When watching Caroline Graham Hansen glide effortlessly past defenders down the right wing, I had to remind myself that the Stabæk FK player is only 18. Such is the maturity she and lone forward Ada Hegerberg – who celebrated her 18th birthday a day before Norway's Group B opener against Iceland – exude in their play, you could be forgiven for thinking they are seasoned internationals. Conspicuous by her luminous yellow footwear, Hansen, always keen to take responsibility and run at opponents, has the game, trickery and a mean turn of pace to match. A big future lies ahead for this fearless teenager.

Trevor Haylett: Iceland's moment of history
Iceland were desperate to improve on their debut campaign four years ago when they lost every game. They were in a tough group and the fear was that a poor start would make it difficult to put any points on the board.

Against Norway in Kalmar they trailed to Kristine Hegland's opener but grew stronger in the second half. Just three minutes remained when the indefatigable Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir was blocked in the area and a penalty awarded. Coach Siggi Eyjólfsson paced up and down nervously as his prolific scorer Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir placed the ball on the spot before coolly converting. It was a great moment for Iceland – their first point in a final tournament at full national team level.

©AFP/Getty Images

Gudbjörg Gunnarsdóttir makes a save

Ian Holyman: Goalie Gunnarsdóttir
Goalkeepers in the women's game are often decried, but Gudbjörg Gunnarsdóttir's superlative display against Germany should silence the critics. The reigning champions, rampant in qualifying, clicked into gear going forward at the Växjö Arena, but Gunnarsdóttir – only starting because of Thóra Helgadóttir's injury – all but kept them in check. She brilliantly tipped a Lena Lotzen header onto the bar before throwing herself to her left to parry a close-range Célia Okoyino da Mbabi volley that seemed to have already beaten her.

Those were just two of a feature-length DVD's worth of save-of-the-tournament contenders. It may seem strange to cast the spotlight on someone who lost 3-0, but the Avaldsnes IL player's utterly brilliant performance meant the scoreline remained one common in football and not rugby.

Paul Saffer: Don't make her Angerer...
I was going to plump for Stina Petersen's two penalty saves for Denmark in the opener against Sweden. After all, that wouldn't happen again, right? Except it did, in the final. Nadine Angerer denied Trine Rønning with her feet before the break, and then with Germany 1-0 up, the goalkeeper saves again from Solveig Gulbrandsen. Yes, it was a sixth straight German win and, yes, their reign will stretch to at least 22 years before the next tournament.

However, this is a Germany team in transition and hit by injury, who won not because of effortless superiority as they did the last couple of times, but through sheer spirit, and some heartening performances from yet another talented generation including Lena Lotzen and Leonie Maier. Plus Angerer, who after serving so long as Silke Rottenberg's deputy, is now a bona fide Germany legend.

Last updated: 04/09/13 21.34CET

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