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Hjelmseth not afraid of Germany

Relaxed Norway keeper Ingrid Hjelmseth says her team will "go out there and have fun" when they play champions Germany in the last four, such is the expectancy that the holders will reach the final.

Ingrid Hjelmseth raises a smile after Norway's victory against Sweden on Friday
Ingrid Hjelmseth raises a smile after Norway's victory against Sweden on Friday ©Getty Images

A relaxed Ingrid Hjelmseth says Norway will "just go out there and have fun" against champions Germany in the last four of UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™, such is the expectancy that the holders will reach a fifth consecutive final.

Frightening statistics
Germany have been predictably ruthless in Finland, breezing through the group stage – which began with a 4-0 defeat of Norway – before stretching their unbeaten record in the tournament to 45 matches with a 2-1 quarter-final win against Italy on Friday. The last 33 of those have been victories and few would bet against the six-time champions registering another one when they meet Bjarne Berntsen's team at the Helsinki Football Stadium on Monday.

'No pressure'
Norway, however, have created a few headlines of their own, winning 3-1 against a Sweden side which started the quarter-final as firm favourites, and goalkeeper Hjelmseth is quite at home with the idea of being the underdog. "Like against Sweden, we'll be under no pressure," she told uefa.com. "Everyone was expecting Sweden to win and the same will happen on Monday. Everyone is expecting Germany to win the game and reach the final so we can just go out there and have fun. If we win it will be just fantastic for us."

'Very grateful'
These finals have represented a breakthrough for the Stabæk FK No1, who did not make an appearance during qualifying and was an unused substitute throughout Norway's run to the final four years ago. Having been Bente Nordby's long-time understudy until the stalwart's 2008 international retirement, Hjelmseth was then Erika Skarbø's deputy until the latter underwent wrist surgery in January, allowing the engineer her chance to impress. "It has been really fun, of course it's better to play than to sit on the bench so I'm very grateful and it's nice that we're going so well," added the 29-year-old. "I think I've had four good games. Maybe the one against Germany was the best and hopefully I can do it again."

'Unlucky' situation
Her form so far has certainly impressed her coach. "She's had a tremendous tournament and convinced everybody that she's a great goalkeeper, as we knew before," said Berntsen. "She's been very unlucky the last few seasons because first Bente Nordby and then Erika Skarbø, two great goalkeepers, have been in front of her. Ingrid has shown there is a lot of quality goalkeepers in Norway."

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