England left-winger Sue Smith is a bubbly character at the best of times but she cut an even more ebullient figure after the tense 3-2 victory against hosts Finland in the UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ quarter-finals.
Smith's side twice held a two-goal lead in Turku but each time a passionate crowd was spurred into life as Finland pulled one back from a corner. England held on at 3-2 for eleven minutes to reach Sunday's semi-finals, despite having lost captain and centre-back Faye White to a first-half cheekbone injury, and Smith's relief was palpable.
"It was really nerve-wracking, the last ten minutes," Smith told uefa.com. "But we managed to get the job done, which we're all really pleased about. We knew Finland was going to be a really tough game. They've got the fans behind them so we prepared for that. We were struggling for height on the corners when Faye went off and things like that but we managed to scrape through and we're all absolutely delighted."
It was the second time England have won 3-2 in this tournament, after their Group C defeat of Russia, and in their last two qualifiers in the Czech Republic and Spain they came from behind to gain victory. "We like to make it entertaining, that's what it is," Smith said. "Hopefully all the fans back home are enjoying it but I'd like to do it a little bit easier than that next time."
The 29-year-old Leeds Carnegie LFC player has not tended to be a regular starter for England in recent times, having been hampered by injuries, but in this tournament she has been restored as first choice on the left. "I've been really enjoying it," Smith said. "It's been tough to work my way back in to No11, but I just want to keep that now. Just keep working hard and hopefully I can keep that spot."
Although Smith begins on the left, she constantly swaps wings with Karen Carney while lone striker Eniola Aluko, scorer of two goals against Finland, also switches with playmaker Kelly Smith. "That's what we did today," Sue Smith said. "Kaz and me kept swapping wings, you've got Kelly bombing on, you've got Eni scoring fantastic goals. If we can keep doing that and mixing it up, hopefully it will be difficult for the opposition."
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