Swiss knock out Germany to make first final
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Switzerland 1-0 Germany
The Alpine outfit scored an 80th-minute Amira Arfaoui winner to get to their first final and halt Germany's championship defence.
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An 80th-minute goal from Switzerland substitute Amira Arfaoui knocked out UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship holders Germany and took the underdogs into their first-ever final at this level, against Spain at Valsvöllur on Saturday.
Arfaoui finished superbly Switzerland's last opportunity of an engaging Reykjavik semi-final just when a second last-four shoot-out of the day seemed inevitable. The No18 pounced on Alisha Lehmann's assist following a left-wing cross from Nathalie Lienhard to give the Swiss – beaten semi-finalists in 2012 – a first shot at the title. The dramatic conclusion also drew a line under Germany's pursuit of a fifth WU17 crown.
Jenny Hipp had the first shot in anger but it will have comforted Swiss coach Monica Di Fonzo that the two occasions Germany's six-goal tournament top scorer Stefanie Sanders went on the rampage, she was forced inside and crowded out. Though the No9 pulled one attempt wide and drove another over, the Group B winners were holding their own despite ceding a clear physical advantage to the four-time continental champions.
Further upfield Swiss forward Géraldine Reuteler hustled relentlessly, encouraging attacking intent from Lehmann and Jolanda Stampfli, the match winner against France rewarded with a start. With Germany's best moments coming on the transition, however, the Alpine team were perhaps understandably reluctant to open up.
After the first-half cat-and-mouse, Giulia Gwinn nearly gobbled up a chance moments after the restart, then Sanders tried her luck after a penetrating raid by Hipp. The former came closer still during a five-on-five break as the 579 spectators willed a breakthrough. Switzerland nearly provided it, German goalkeeper Vanessa Fischer tipping over Naomi Mégroz's free-kick before Lara Jenzer surged into the box and forced a great low save. Reuteler's late efforts also hinted at a thrilling finale.
Yet whenever Switzerland advanced their sphere of operations, the likes of Isabella Möller and Hipp reminded them of Germany's offensive threat. This was reiterated further when Sanders fired against keeper Nadja Furrer and skipper Mégroz had to clear bravely from Gwinn. Even in the last minute, Sanders warmed the palms of Furrer before Di Fonzo's still-unbeaten side countered to deliver their coup de grace.
Monica Di Fonzo, Switzerland
We're absolutely delighted to have won this semi-final. It's fantastic that 'little Switzerland' have qualified for the final – and for the first time too. There aren't really the words to describe what we're feeling right now, but it is magnificent. We had a plan and we knew that Germany are a very good attacking team, so we had to stay defensively disciplined and to play intelligently. I thought in the second half we grew as a team, we believed in ourselves and we opened up. We created some decent chances and we kept going to the end. We always believed we could do it.
Anouschka Bernhard, Germany
It's disappointing. We played well, we had a plan for how to play Switzerland and it wasn't so bad, but the problem is if you don't score – because that's what counts. That's football. Switzerland got two and a half chances in the whole game whereas we had seven or eight, but what counts is scoring them. So congratulations to Switzerland – they fought for 80 minutes, they played with a lot of heart and a lot of passion. Right after the game I told my team that I'm proud of how they've played here, especially the outstanding reaction after the Spain game – beating England. We played so well all season and it's so hard not to get what we've worked for all campaign. But I'm proud of them. We've got some really good players and I hope today has helped for their personal development – for them to make the next step.