Germany captain Ramona Petzelberger admitted that while her side were never less than confident of victory over Norway in the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship, a record 8-1 triumph was beyond their wildest dreams.
"We never expected it to go this well," she said as We are the Champions rippled around the Stadio Romeo Galli one last time. "
Before the final we struggled to back up one goal with another but that was not a problem today. We were keen to capitalise when we were on top, to build a cushion because if we didn't we knew Norway always had a chance of getting back into it."
That knowledge was born from experience. Thirteen days before Saturday evening's final waltz Maren Meinert's side opened their Group B campaign against Norway and were no less dominant. Yet as they wasted chance after chance at one end and the free-scoring Melissa Bjånesøy lurked ominously at the other it was not until a minute from time, when Anja Hegenauer made it 3-1, that victory was finally secured.
Meinert warned her players would pay if they continued to fluff their lines and for a while the showpiece threatened to realise her nightmare. All they had to show for an impressive first half, when they suffocated Norway's attacking ambitions before passing them into submission, was Luisa Wensing's header following a Petzelberger corner. Yet there was no repeat. By the hour mark, it was 5-0, with Petzelberger among the scorers with a thunderous volley.
"We knew it was going to be very hard and even if it wasn't comparable to the first game here, such an emphatic result was unexpected," the SC 07 Bad Neuenahr playmaker said of an eventual 8-1 scoreline that smashed the record margin of victory. Petzelberger is no stranger to winning titles in style, however. The Germany skipper is one of six members of the 2009 UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship victors in this squad – they beat Spain 7-0 in the final.
"That win in 2009 was a special experience and this will go down as another. We always aim to win; we work hard and do everything to ensure we do. It's fascinating how we manage it. We just really wanted it tonight." Nobody more so than Petzelberger, as Meinert acknowledged: "
I told everyone that they had to watch my No10 because she's a great player; the link between attack and defence. I thought she had a great tournament.
"After missing the [FIFA U-20 Women's] World Cup last year [through injury] I was glad to see her lifting the trophy today. Hopefully next year she will be lifting another." But for now even the single-minded Petzelberger – she lists football as her sole hobby on the German Football Association website – is savouring the moment. So, how does it feel to lift the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship trophy? "Heavy. It just feels incredible. And heavy."
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