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Germany picked themselves up after their historic loss to Norway on Wednesday to defeat Italy and join hosts Sweden in the semi-finals.
The holders' crown had been tarnished by that first defeat in a UEFA European Women's Championship fixture in 17 years, and though the Azzurre again ran them close, as they had done in Finland four years ago, Simone Laudehr's first-half effort proved enough. As their opponents head home, Germany can now look forward to facing Sweden in Gothenburg on Wednesday in a re-match of the 1995 and 2001 title-deciders.
Germany's last outing in Vaxjo resulted in a 3-0 victory against Iceland that gave an inkling as to the hitherto largely untapped potential of this squad, somewhat more youthful in make-up than the one Italy met four years ago.
Yet it was Laudehr, part of that 2009 selection, who made the biggest impression. After heading over a Célia Okoyino da Mbabi cross, the 1. FFC Frankfurt forward fired goalwards when the Italy back four failed to clear a corner, the ball snaking through a crowd in front of Chiara Marchitelli before finding the net.
Faced with a two-goal deficit in Finland, Italy had clambered back into the game through Partizia Panico. The veteran forward still leads the line of Antonio Cabrini's 4-3-3, and with the Germany defenders focused on the prolific 38-year-old, Elisa Camporese arrived late to get a powerful and only slightly wayward header to Melania Gabbiadini's cross.
A brilliantly improvised Panico flick from a corner, scrambled off the line by Leonie Maier, and Daniela Stracchi's drive, snared authoritatively by Nadine Angerer, meant the Azzurre headed back to the dressing room unbowed.
No doubt with memories of their spirited second-half display of yesteryear in mind, Italy returned with a flourish as Alice Parisi fizzed a volley over the bar. Laudehr, though, showed why she has developed into a key component of Silvia Neid's side in this tournament.
First, she almost doubled the holders' lead, but Marchitelli's brave block meant Cecilia Salvai's slip was not punished. Then successive Laudehr crosses were sent narrowly wide by Da Mbabi and Lena Lotzen, another whom the finals have afforded an opportunity to showcase her talents.
Germany fans might have feared a sense of deja vu after suffering in the closing minutes four years ago. However, though Nadine Kessler could not quite force in a Lotzen corner and then fired the rebound over after Dzsenifer Marozsán's free-kick struck the bar, Italy, this time, had no fight left in them.
Player of the Match: Simone Laudehr (Germany)
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