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England are through to their fourth UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship final in seven years after overwhelming Finland to book a rematch with France in Llanelli on Saturday.
Finland went into the game on the crest of a wave after their 1-1 draw with Germany but were drowned out by England's pace and power in Carmarthen. They were 3-0 down by the break, Bethany Mead scoring either side of Paige Williams's 34th-minute penalty. Although Finland improved, Jessica Sigsworth made it four midway through the second period to complete a resounding victory.
The tone was set immediately with England basking in the evening sunshine – and putting Finland firmly in a shade they never really escaped from. They fell behind on 15 minutes as Tiia Peltonen misjudged an innocuous punt forward from Williams. Mead was on it in an instant, letting the ball bounce before lifting it over the onrushing Vera Varis.
A similar situation almost brought the second eight minutes later and though Varis denied Nikita Parris, the Everton LFC forward soon got revenge with a bristling run the goalkeeper could only halt illegally. Williams stepped up to make it 2-0, spearing the ball into the top corner. "The sight of the English is getting me down," celebrated journalist Wynford Vaughan-Thomas, born down the road in Swansea, once wrote – Finland could empathise with that.
Five minutes before the interval it got worse for Marianne Miettinen's charges. Martha Harris, excellent at right-back, delivered a deep cross that Mead, attacking the far post, met emphatically. Finland picked up, with substitute Iina Salmi having a shot from the angle tipped onto the bar by Elizabeth Durack, yet order was soon restored as Sigsworth cut in from the right to make absolutely sure of a repeat of the 2010 final.
France won 2-0 then but Mo Marley's England, so irresistible tonight and yet to concede a goal in south-west Wales – a 0-0 opening-day draw with France included – have cause for optimism.
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