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Spain were denied the opportunity to claim a record-equalling third UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship as they fell to a dramatic penalty shoot-out defeat at the hands of Sweden, who will face Poland in their first-ever final appearance on Friday.
Sweden goalkeeper Emma Holmgren proved the match-winner as she scored the winning penalty after the game had finished 2-2 after 80 minutes. Nahikari García opened the scoring for the 2010 and 2011 winners, before Stina Blackstenius equalised and Jennifer Karlsson had seemingly set Sweden on course for victory. However, Maddi Torre's header five minutes from time took the game to penalties and Sweden held their nerve.
After a quiet opening Spain soon found their rhythm with captain Marta Turmo and García passing up notable chances before the two-time trophy winners made a breakthrough. García had proved her potency in front of goal in qualifying, scoring four times, and she outfoxed Sweden goalkeeper Holmgren with a clever lob to give Spain the advantage on 26 minutes.
However, their lead lasted only a matter of moments as Sweden hit back with a perfectly executed counterattack. Amanda Östervall charged down the left and squared the ball for Blackstenius, who found herself unmarked and made no mistake from inside the area.
Capping a remarkable few minutes, Spain could easily have regained the lead, only for García to fire over from two metres. Early in the second half Vilda's charges went close again but María Caldentey cleared the crossbar with a powerful strike. Sweden made them pay for missed opportunities midway through the second half when substitute Karlsson raced into the box and hit a low shot which Yaiza Pérez could not prevent from bouncing just inside a post.
Not downhearted, Spain continued to dominate and, after Andrea Sánchez hit a free-kick against the inside of a post, they forced the game to penalties through Torre's late header. With both sides having scored four out of their opening five spot kicks, Nuria Garrote missed for Spain to allow goalkeeper Holmgren to send Sweden into their maiden final.
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