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The Republic of Ireland ended Germany's domination of the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship after winning a gripping semi-final 1-0 in Nyon.
Germany's dreams of winning a third successive title were halted by a magnificent Irish effort, with Megan Campbell's wonderful 38th-minute free-kick sending them through to the final against Spain on Saturday. Ralf Peter's side had won the first two editions of the competition and had never been beaten at this level, but they could not find their way past an inspired Ireland side, the first team from that nation to play in any women's final tournament.
Chances were few and far between in a hectic and fiercely contested first half-hour in which both sides cancelled each other out. Ireland tackled tigerishly in midfield, defended staunchly and also found time to launch several dangerous attacks which kept Germany's defence, unbreashed this season, occupied.
Isabella Schmid and Sarah Romert fired wide from range when Germany found some attacking verve. At the other end, hard-working forward Denise O'Sullivan came the closest of either side after 23 minutes, when she turned in the area and curled an effort just past the post.
With captain Dora Gorman a tireless midfield inspiration, Ireland made the breakthrough two minutes before the interval with a truly stunning goal. Left-back Campbell struck a 25-metre free-kick so sweetly that it screamed across goalkeeper Lena Nuding and into the corner to send the vocal Irish support wild.
Stung by the goal, Germany came out for the second half with renewed vigour and stepped up the pressure. However, they came up against an Irish rearguard in which Campbell, Jessica Gleeson, Ciara O'Brien and Jennifer Byrne were outstanding. Lena Petermann lifted her shot over the bar when ideally placed and goalkeeper Grace Moloney also saved well from Silvana Chojnowski.
Sensing their grip on the title loosening, Germany poured forward in search of a leveller, and the Irish penalty area was the scene of several skirmishes. At the other end, Gorman's goalbound shot was blocked by Nuding. The tension was unbearable in the closing stages – and the final whistle heralded scenes of boundless joy for Noel King's charges, who also qualify for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago from 5 to 25 September. Germany will play the Netherlands for Europe's third berth in that event on Saturday.
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