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Norway edge Italy thriller to take final spot

Italy 2-3 Norway
Substitute Caroline Hansen scored direct from a corner as Jarl Torske's team eventually silenced the hosts to take their place in Saturday's final.

Norway celebrate at full time
Norway celebrate at full time ©UEFA.com

Caroline Hansen scored the winner within three minutes of coming on as Norway edged an error-strewn meeting with Italy to advance to Saturday's UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship final.

The 16-year-old struck direct from a corner midway through the second half as Jarl Torske's side took the lead for the third time in Bellaria – this time they held on. Elisa Lecce and Katia Coppola had twice pegged them back, cancelling out Melissa Bjånesøy's 12th-minute opener and then Ada Hegerberg's strike at the start of the second period.

The game, a repeat of the 2008 showpiece when Italy won 1-0, began scrappily as both sides struggled to deal with the greasy surface. It almost brought dire consequences for Anja Sønstevold as she slipped attempting to deal with an innocuous looking long ball, but Coppola could not capitalise. Within two minutes, Norway were ahead.

There was more obvious threat in Ada Hegerberg's right-wing cross, and as Cathrine Dekkerhus drew defenders nobody picked up Bjånesøy. The in-form striker needed no invitation to poke in when the ball was fortuitously deflected into her path, but it proved a fleeting advantage.

Azzurrine skipper Martina Rosucci, the only survivor from the 2008 final, was the instigator, carving open the Norway back line with a delightful through ball. Lecce saw it coming, springing a high defensive line, rounding onrushing goalkeeper Ane Fimreite before side-footing into the empty net.

Mistakes were the order of the day: the question seemed to be which would prove fatal. Roberta Filippozzi saw a horribly skewed clearance come back off the upright before half-time and within seconds of the restart her mistake almost let Norway in; Bjånesøy's low cross evaded Kristine Hegland, though.

It brought the briefest of reprieves as a combination of Bjånesøy's wiliness and Laura Giuliani hesitancy created an opening for Ada Hegerberg – 2-1. Within 60 seconds Italy were level as Rosucci's fine ball released Coppola for a cool finish but back came Norway, Hansen's corner drifting in at the near post.

There was no way back this time, though only after Fimreite brilliantly tipped Marta Mason's late effort away via a post. Germany await.