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A stunning drive from Ingvild Isaksen earned Norway a historic victory over Germany as they ended the holders' incredible unbeaten run in UEFA European Women's Championship matches, stretching back 59 games and more than 17 years. It also left Norway as winners of Group B and means they will stay in Kalmar for their quarter-final against the Group C runners-up.
Germany, who had never lost to the Scandinavians in EURO final matches, will now face Italy in Vaxjo on Sunday. With Norway making six changes a German success seemed even more likely at the start but after Isaksen had struck her first-ever international goal at the end of the first half, the seven-time champions struggled to regain their earlier fluency as Norway defended for their lives.
Silvia Neid made two changes – both enforced with Jennifer Cramer suspended and Lena Goessling missing through illness – and the start of the game reflected the contrasting levels of familiarity with Germany smoothly into their stride, moving the ball around with ease, while Norway scrambled to close off their routes to goal.
So dominant were Germany in possession that very occasionally it made them vulnerable to the counter-attack. From a free-kick Emilie Haavi stung the palms of Nadine Angerer while the ever-willing Ada Hegerberg, a lone front runner, did well to find room for a shot which flew over.
They were isolated Norway chances in a story of patient prompting from Neid’s team. Once again Célia Okoyino da Mbabi led the charge, shooting over after a combination with Dzsenifer Marozsán, then attempting to lift the ball over Ingrid Hjelmseth who managed to hold on.
It was more problematic for Norway’s goalkeeper five minutes later when the ball spun out from a Saskia Bartusiak challenge, bounced off the turf and on to the top of the bar. When the corner came over Luisa Wensing got a slight touch to it and the ball again grazed the woodwork on its way over.
It was a huge surprise then when Norway took the lead on the stroke of half-time. A free-kick was cleared straight to Isaksen out on the left and she struck a hard shot which clipped the shoulder of Elise Thorsnes and left Angerer flat-footed.
Germany took a long time to find their rhythm again after that and Norway had more of a say in matters. The talented Caroline Hansen came off the bench and shot well while at the other end Da Mbabi got her positioning all wrong with a headed chance. Then Nadine Kessler got underneath her opportunity from close in. They were rare second-half chances, though, so well did Norway get their tackles and blocks in to ultimately deserve this famous victory.
Player of the match: Maren Mjelde (Norway)
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