Melissa Bjånesøy was still catching her breath an hour after Norway's semi-final win but nothing could halt the six-goal striker's superlatives as she looked ahead to a rematch with Germany.
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Melissa Bjånesøy's breathing was laboured but nothing could halt the flow of superlatives as the Norway striker's sixth goal of the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship helped seal a rematch with Germany in Saturday's final.
"I don't know where to start; I'm almost running on empty," she told UEFA.com after Wednesday's thrilling 3-2 victory over hosts Italy. "We worked so hard for this – it was pretty amazing when the final whistle went. In the end we were running on pure adrenalin; the second the referee ended it I felt my body just empty; suddenly I felt pretty tired."
It was an exhausting match. A pre-match storm made conditions heavy but nothing could stop the flow of goals from the moment Bjånesøy broke the deadlock on 12 minutes. Italy struck back, repeating the feat when Ada Hegerberg restored Norway's lead shortly after half-time. But, try as the might (and they really did try), the hosts could not conjure a reply when Caroline Hansen scored direct from a corner midway through the second period.
She had only been on the pitch for three minutes... "and she puts the corner in," the confident Bjånesøy cut in. "That's typical of her. She has the ability to come on and change the game. The conditions were hard, Italy were hard and they fought well. But so did we and in the end we managed to swing the match our way."
There was almost another twist when, minutes after Bjånesøy had provided the collector's item that is a missed chance here in Emilia-Romagna, Marta Mason fired in a shot that Ane Fimreite brilliantly tipped away via a post. "I was pretty nervous a couple of times," admited the Norway No10, "but we have confidence in our defence and our goalkeeper – they've been absolutely amazing these past few games. You get a bit anxious for a second but then you see they have it under control. It's pretty good – especially for my heart."
That will be news to coach Jarl Torske as he and Norway need their in-form striker at her best in Imola on Saturday when they take on a Germany side to whom they lost 3-1 in their opening group game. "A goal in the final would mean everything to me; it would be amazing. I've never been in anything remotely close to this," said Bjånesøy. "It's been a great tournament for me – six goals is way beyond what I imagined beforehand. It's been pretty awesome. I probably should have had a seventh here but we have one game left.
"We lost to Germany in the opening game so it would be fun to play them. Since that opener we've only been getting better. I think we can surprise them in the final." Above all, after losing three showpieces – in 2003, 2008 and when this was a U18 competition in 2001 – Bjånesøy believes the trophy is little more than her coach deserves. "It would mean a lot to win the final for Jarl. He been amazing for us. He leads this group in an extraordinary way. The players want to win this for themselves but to win it for him would be really great."