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Germany were made to work hard to defeat Italy 1-0 and take their place in the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final.
Bidding for their fourth showpiece appearance at this level, Germany started positively, opening the scoring after 15 minutes through Ricarda Walkling. Italy threatened a revival after the break, but the three-time champions showed their mettle to ensure a smooth passage into Sunday's final, where they they will face Spain.
Attacking full-back Leonie Stenzel had been a cornerstone of Germany's success in the group stage and continued to dazzle in Chesterfield. Collecting possession wide on the right, Stenzel displayed fleet of foot to eke out a cross for Laura Widak, who blasted over first time when well-placed. The two players combined again moments later but Italy defender Nicole Peressotti intervened bravely on the penalty spot.
Enrico Sbardella's side attempted to stem the flow by building patiently from the back, only for their opponents to hector and harry them into submission. Turning sharply after dropping into space, captain Jasmin Sehan executed a sublime through ball for Walkling, whose left-footed shot on the angle punctured the fingertips of Francesca Durante and trickled in. It was almost two when Sehan – the tournament's leading scorer – took receipt of Widak's centre and fired centimetres wide on the half-volley.
Manuela Giugliano led the Azzurrine response after half-time, dropping her shoulder twice to maneuver a shooting opportunity before slicing wide. The midfield schemer tried her luck from range again minutes later, this time warming the palms of Vivien Brandt. At the other end, Walkling's penchant for cutting inside almost paid dividends when she angled a shot narrowly past a post following a forceful run. The ubiquitous winger then spurned another opportunity to double the lead, but the job had already been done.
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