UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ is over and uefa.com's English language reporting team in Finland have picked their moment, team and player of the tournament from the games they watched.
Chris Burke (Helsinki, Lahti, Tampere)
Moment: The kick-off following Kelly Smith's goal against Russia
Nothing can top Kelly Smith's monumental winning goal against Russia, but the player herself provided a fascinating postscript. No sooner had Igor Shaimov's shell-shocked troops kicked off than Smith was back in possession again, having raced in to steal the ball before Russia could advance two metres. While everyone else at the Helsinki Football Stadium was still stuck in a kind of daze, Smith remained utterly clear-headed.
Ranked 17th in the world, Vera Pauw's side were the surprise package in Finland, ultimately coming within four minutes of taking their semi-final with England to penalties. Understanding their limitations and playing to their strengths earned the Oranje their success while also guaranteeing the players state salaries that will fuel the next stage of their development.
Player: Karen Carney
Kelly Smith continues to be England's most important player, but Carney cannot be too far behind when it comes to picking a way through defences. The Chicago Red Stars winger has profited immensely from her time in the United States, developing both physical strength and confidence. There cannot be too many players with superior close ball-control skills and Carney – still just 22 – has provided end product too with goals or assists in pretty much every game.
Wayne Harrison (Helsinki, Lahti)
Moment: Nadine Angerer's last-minute save against Italy
A diving, near-post header by Italy striker Patrizia Panico so nearly took the Azzurre to extra-time in the quarter-final against Germany, but Angerer had other ideas. While not at their destructive best in Lahti, Germany created and missed enough chances to have put Italy out of sight. As it was the holders only led 2-1 going into the final seconds and so it would have been interesting to have witnessed their response had the two-goal lead they had established early in the second half been cancelled out.
Following a number of international retirements and an indifferent run of results in 2009, expectations were low surrounding Norway's participation in Finland. However, a youthful squad which began the tournament by losing 4-0 to champions Germany, confounded the doubters by progressing to the last eight. It was there that they shocked neighbours Sweden and, having taken an early lead, were the better side in the first half of the 3-1 semi-final defeat by the holders.
Player: Cecilie Pedersen
Playing her football in the Norwegian third tier, teenage striker Pedersen was a virtual unknown before the finals began. Having only made her debut in Norway's last pre-finals friendly, she scored the winner against Iceland on Matchday 2 and added an exquisitely-taken third when through on goal against Sweden, a strike which belied her inexperience on the international stage. A real talent for the future.
Trevor Haylett (Turku)
Moment: Faye White's goal against Sweden
White rose majestically to head home Karen Carney's free-kick to give England the lead against Sweden. It was a big moment because it meant that after eight qualifying ties and two group games the celebrated Sweden defence had been breached for the first time in the tournament. It also infused the England team with self-belief and gave them the conviction to go on and reach the final.
There was so much to admire about England in the tournament after the White goal but my vote goes to Sweden and specifically their teamwork and understanding. Nothing emphasised that more than the opening goal in the 2-0 win over Italy when Therese Sjögran moved the ball swiftly to Victoria Sandell Svensson, who spotted Lotta Schelin's clever run in behind her marker. The passing, movement and awareness was slick and the finish was coolly tucked away by Schelin.
Player: Charlotte Rohlin
Rohlin made her mark early in Sweden's group games with a far-post header after only four minutes to give them the lead in the opening fixture with Russia. In that match and in all their others, she continued to impress with her accomplished defending and thoughful use of the ball from deep positions while also remaining a threat to the opposition from corners. A class act.
Trevor Huggins (Helsinki, Lahti, Turku)
Moment: Kelly Smith's winner against Russia
Smith's winning goal for England in their 3-2 group victory over Russia. On the purely aesthetic level, standing by the centre circle and killing a goalkeeper's drop-kick with a single touch before the ball touches the ground and then sending a half-volley into the back of the net from 35 metres is an astonishing feat. On another level, it's a reminder of why billions of armchair fans watch football – to marvel at things they cannot do themselves.
It's not just the fact that they have an unrivalled track record in European women's football and have been the overwhelming favourites in Finland from the start; it's the way they have dominated opponents in the matches that count. It's a hallmark in both the men's and women's soccer that the very best sides impose their game on their opponents through a mixture of pace, technical skill and determination. Germany currently look an irresistible force.
Player: Daphne Koster
Daphne Koster has been outstanding throughout the tournament at the heart of a Dutch defence that is making its debut in a UEFA European Women's Championship finals. Great anticipation, the mark of a really top central defender, is the strong suit of a captain who chased and tackled for two long hours in their penalty shoot-out win over France in the quarter-finals.
Barry Johnston (Tampere)
Moment: Iceland's fans
The 300 or so Iceland fans who travelled to Finland deserve to be lauded for their contribution in making UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ a festival of colour and passion. Their finest hour came in the build-up to their team's final match, against Germany. With all hope of progressing already extinguished after narrow defeats in the opening two games, Iceland's loyal band of supporters arrived at Tampere Stadium en masse, regardless – each one draped head to toe in the red, white and blue or their national flag – and made the occasion truly one to remember.
Germany have set a standard that all others must follow and, from organisational level through to the players and backroom staff, their continued achievements in raising the bar of professionalism, conditioning and public profile must be celebrated. Although, perhaps the most significant advancement to come from UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ is evidence that the gap between the best and the rest is narrowing.
Player: Camille Abily
Wearing the No10 for France in men's football brings with it a certain level of expectation. However, that tradition has clearly transcended the disciplines to women's football and, in Abily, 24, Les Bleues have a more than worthy guardian of the famous jersey. In her four matches at the finals, Abily was a joy to watch; her superb technical level and vision matched by her willingness to work off the ball.
Paul Saffer (Helsinki, Lahti, Tampere, Turku)
Moment: Birgit Prinz's opening goal in the final
Before the final, Prinz has not scored in Finland and some critics were wondering if she was finished. That was harsh considering what else she did for the team, but anyway there was an emphatic answer 20 minutes into the final, the fifth she has won and the fourth in which she has scored. She struck again for good measure and, as usual, lifted the trophy. The most-capped European in history, man or woman, and the most-titled.
Yes, they did not have the flair of England or the sheer ability of Germany, but their semi-final run could prove pivotal in women's football. One of the 'extra' sides given entry by the expansion of the finals from eight to 12, their performance justified that decision and proved that the international game is no longer dominated by the same few teams.
Player: Kim Kulig
Several teenagers, including Pedersen, burst on to the scene in this tournament but just to make it into the Germany squad is hard enough, yet 19-year-old Kulig – who made her senior debut in February – has already established herself as a regular starter in central midfield. With vision, poise, skill and tenacity, Kulig could be at the heart of the Germany team for a decade or more and is proof that as one generation from that nation starts to retire, they have another already in position to keep them at the top. Oh, and she scored a vital goal in the final.
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.