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Finland are through to the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship semi-finals after battling back to hold Group B winners Germany 1-1.
Maren Meinert's team went into the game with progress assured and showing six changes to their starting XI, but for a while it was very much business as usual. Johanna Tietge broke the deadlock on 20 minutes with a diving header although Finland responded well, Juliette Kemppi rattling the woodwork before equalising at the start of the second half. It was enough for the point that guaranteed a Finnish meeting with England on Wednesday, when Germany take on France.
Mythic Welsh wizard Merlin was, according to folklore, born in a cave outside Carmarthen and there was a sense that Finland would need something a bit magical to get a result. That feeling grew as Germany pressed from the off, with Lina Magull orchestrating play magnificently from the base of the midfield and the full-backs more often found in the Finnish half than in their own.
The approach was exemplified when Silvana Chojnowski delivered a left-wing cross to the far post where right-back Tietge, 17, dived in for her first Germany goal at any level. Finland could have rocked yet instead they settled and so nearly drew level. Adelina Engman skilfully turned her marker inside out before supplying an inviting ball across goal that somehow evaded the unmarked Kemppi.
No matter: soon after half-time – and importantly, perhaps, Magull's withdrawal – it was 1-1. Kemppi had just struck the bar with a chipped effort but showed no ill-effects to her confidence as she received the ball in a similar position on the edge of the box and side-footed low into the bottom corner. Germany recovered their poise, but with stand-in captain Katarina Naumanen and goalkeeper Vera Varis excellent, Finland held firm.
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