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Torske glee as Norway complete 'perfect birthday'

A birthday that began with a stroll on the beach ended with a walk in the park for Norway coach Jarl Torske as his side beat Spain 5-1 to seal second in Group B, and a semi-final against Italy.

Norway coach Jarl Torske salutes the crowd in Forli after his side's 5-1 win against Spain
Norway coach Jarl Torske salutes the crowd in Forli after his side's 5-1 win against Spain ©Mattias Grafström

A 62nd birthday that began with a stroll on the beach ended with a walk in the park for Jarl Torske as his Norway side delivered the "perfect" present: a 5-1 victory over Spain which sealed second in Group B, and a UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship semi-final against Italy.

Jarl Torske, Norway coach
What a good birthday present! I thought we had a good chance as the victory over the Netherlands gave us a real boost. I'm extremely pleased by our performance, especially in the first half – I think it's one of the best I've ever seen by a Norway under-19 team, in my ten years and eight final tournaments as their coach. We have a disciplined style of play and they really work together and for each other. We're a team on and off the field.

Getting a goal so early on almost settled the game. We were prepared for a storm from Spain at the beginning but it never came and then we got that first goal. It brought a fluency to our game and we really started playing; sometimes possession football, sometimes on the counterattack. We have a good balance to the team and I'm please with how it is composed – just in time for the semi-finals.

We've played Italy a few times and their coach [Corrado Corradini] is a good friend of mine so I'll ask him about his team. Playing Italy in Italy in the semi-finals is a big challenge but we love a big challenge. As I said when we arrived here: our main goal was to get into the semi-finals and qualify for the [FIFA U-20 Women's] World Cup as that means this team get another 15 months together, which is important for their development.

I don't know what the girls have planned for the rest of my birthday. I was really emotional this morning because we were all walking on the beach and suddenly they all grouped together and they had created a song, a tribute to me and Maria [Thorisdottir, who turned 18 on Sunday]. Yes, the perfect birthday.

Ángel Vilda, Spain coach
You prepare for a game and then in the seventh minute they score and everything changes, but actually the two goals right at the end of the match are hardest to stomach as Spain were much better in the second half. I want to congratulate Norway and their coach. They've obviously prepared very well and have a very good team. Their forwards were technical and so quick, mentally and physically – I just have to congratulate them.

This tournament in Italy has been high quality. It's my fourth finals in five years and it's clear that women's football is developing at a rapid rate. We're going to do our best to improve for the future – that's all we can do at the moment.

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