"It was the most important match, not only in our season but of our lives," said Paulina Dudek after scoring in Poland's semi-final victory over Belgium which sent her country into their first final.
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Poland goalscorer Paulina Dudek was delighted to score in the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship semi-final victory over Belgium that she described as the "most important match" of her life. Coach Zbigniew Witkowski was impressed with her side's overall strength in reaching their first final, while opposite number Joelle Piron was left to rue some missed chances in a 3-1 defeat.
Zbigniew Witkowski, Poland coach
From the very beginning I believed we could win it. We were the much better side in the first half and created more chances, had a lot of set pieces, corners, free-kicks, and from one of them we scored the opening goal. Somehow, unluckily, we conceded a goal a minute later, but overall we deserved to win.
I wanted us to approach the game focused and impose our way of playing from the start. If you wait for your opponents to make the first step, the match might not go your way, but we asserted our style − we were the dominant and attacking side. In the first two qualifying rounds, we played six matches and had six different goalscorers. It is very important to be prepared all round, that's our strength, and that was once again evident in today's match; three goals and three different goalscorers.
It's too early to talk about the final. I'm a bit concerned about our defensive line, it's in pieces now. Our left-back got a second yellow card and won't play in the final and one of our centre-backs is also injured. We have worthy replacements available and they will get the chance to play.
Paulina Dudek, Poland midfielder
It was the most important match, not only in our season but of our lives. We did our absolute best. We have never played better than we did today. We now have two days' rest before the final. We gave everything on the pitch today and we are all exhausted.
I'm in such shock that I don’t really remember how it [my goal] happened. My first touch was with my left foot, the goalie saved it, and I scored from the rebound with my right foot. If we give even more than today we are capable of beating Sweden. We have two days' break now and we will put everything together before the final.
Ewa Pajor, Poland midfielder
We are really happy that we won. It's the first time we have reached the final of the European Championships. We played very well, probably the best so far. We won 3-1 and scored three beautiful goals. I played my football throughout, as always, and I managed to score near the end. We have enough time to recover [for the final]. We have two days and that's a lot of time.
Joelle Piron, Belgium coach
We had the chance to win and reach the final, but over 80 minutes Poland were stronger than us physically. My players are strong, perhaps technically stronger, but physically it was challenging for us; [Poland] play in a very aggressive way.
After the equaliser we had our moments but we couldn’t score that second goal. We also had chances in the second half, but unfortunately we conceded the second goal and after that it was hard for us. Now we'll try to recover physically and we'll prepare tactically. In terms of motivation, the chance to grab third place in this European Championship motivates you instantly so we'll go for it.
Valentine Hannecart, Belgium midfielder
It is already a great achievement, despite the fact that we lost. We've beaten Germany, Holland, and Denmark, which is unbelievable. It was an extra present for us to play here in Switzerland. Unfortunately, we lost, but we will stick together and fight for third place now.
We tried our best, but in the second half they scored and that was a setback for us because we couldn't [come back]. It's a pity. They were quicker to the ball than we were. We didn't play our best and we didn't show what we wanted to. We have to congratulate them. Playing at a EURO final tournament at the age of 18 is a dream come true. We gave our best, we will learn from the mistakes we made and recover in the next two or three days.