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Kalmar shines on its big day in the sun

A sell-out crowd of 10,346 watched Norway defeat Germany 1-0 on Wednesday, with fans queuing from early morning to buy tickets and be part of a record attendance.

Bathed in sunshine, fans watch Germany take on Norway in Kalmar
Bathed in sunshine, fans watch Germany take on Norway in Kalmar ©Getty Images

The Kalmar Arena was the scene on Wednesday for the creation of two significant pieces of UEFA European Women's Championship history.

Not only did the stadium provide the setting for Germany's first loss in this competition, qualifying included, since May 1996, it also hosted the biggest attendance for a Women's EURO finals game outside of those involving the host nation or the title-decider itself.

A sell-out crowd of 10,346 watched Norway, who played all of their Group B fixtures in Kalmar and will remain in the coastal town for a quarter-final against Spain on Monday, inflict the holders' first reverse in 60 matches in the tournament.

The figure eclipsed the previous best of 8,861, set when Germany drew 0-0 with the Netherlands in Vaxjo six days earlier. "I never expected that we'd beat this record," said UEFA Women's EURO 2013 director Göran Havik.

"To do it a second time feels magical. There can be no clearer evidence that we've achieved our goal of Winning Ground, ie to win ground for women's football. That goes for Kalmar and other host cities too. Congratulations Kalmar!"

There was a surge of late interest to see a contest steeped in EURO tradition, with supporters queuing outside the venue from as early as 08.00 local time. By the time the ticket office opened at midday, the line stretched the full length of the arena. To keep fans cool, refreshments were distributed free of charge.

Jeannette Good, UEFA venue director in Kalmar, said: "It was great the remaining tickets went – the match was sold out by 12.45. It was nice to see people queuing and waiting. I would like to thank Kalmar for offering ice cream and water to those in line. It is a great boost for the ticket sales for the quarter-final here on Monday."

Johan Göransson, project leader in Kalmar, added: "When we first started working on this two years ago I couldn't imagine we'd have such a super match. A lot of us have worked hard to put women's football on the map and we've really succeeded. Also, we have the best yet to come: the quarter-final."

The atmosphere in the sun-bathed stadium was expectant for the third of four matches in Kalmar's summer festival of football, with Germany once again proving to be the biggest box-office attraction. Backers of both teams were ably supported by throngs of locals who enjoyed a game settled by Ingvild Isaksen's first senior international goal.

Annel Larsson, from the nearby island of Oland, was thrilled to be "part of the tournament", adding: "All the people in Kalmar are talking about it. It's a very popular event and it can only have a positive effect on women's football in Sweden."

Her friend, Mia Lindell, said: "We were at the fan zone watching Sweden beat Italy [3-1 on Tuesday] and we thought it would be great to go to this game if we could get tickets. We were lucky to be given some. Everybody is fanatical about this tournament; the organisation of it is so impressive."