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Holders Sweden denied by Finland fightback

Sweden 1-1 Finland
Title holders Sweden had to settle for a point as Finland fought back to claim a deserved Group B draw at Stebonheath Park in Llanelli.

Holders Sweden denied by Finland fightback
Holders Sweden denied by Finland fightback ©UEFA.com

Title holders Sweden and final tournament returnees Finland had to be satisfied with a point apiece after opening the 2013 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship with a 1-1 Group B draw in Llanelli.

In this traditional centre of Welsh tinplate production, Finland showed the required steel to recover from the early setback of Marija Banušić's goal and peg back their local rivals through Juliette Kemppi's strike on the hour.

Banušić slotted the champions into a fourth-minute lead after goalkeeper Vera Varis and her defence failed to deal with an Elin Bragnum cross. Moments before, Banušić – with ten goals in six qualifiers – had tried her luck with an ambitious free-kick; this was more like it. Things might have got worse for the Finns, but Pauline Hammarlund nodded over Nellie Karlsson's centre.

Calle Barrling's powerful team initially held the upper hand, though Iina Salmi's shot from distance seemed to stir Finland. When Salmi delivered a free-kick into the Swedish box, keeper Louise Högrell could only punch clear; Julia Tunturi returned the ball with considerable interest and, amid some mayhem, Emilia Iskanius stabbled wide.

Högrell also saved Kemppi's header from an Emma Koivisto delivery as Marianne Miettinen's side settled to the task. Winger Salmi elicited an even better stop, Högrell tipping over. Finland, ending an eight-year exile from these finals, were now displaying the form that earned them six straight qualifying wins.

Clever work by Julia Tunturi and Erika Winter helped maintain their forward momentum in this Nordic derby until the 60th minute, when parity was restored. Kemppi anticipated the flight of Salmi's cross better than Högrell and her centre-halves to prod in the equaliser.

It was the No9's last involvement. Following her withdrawal, Adelina Engman dragged a shot across the face of goal after a defensive mix-up, Högrell fielded an Iskanius pile-driver and Tunturi scooped an effort too close to the Swedish keeper. As a frantic finale ensued, opportunities fell to Sweden's Lina Hurtig as well as Finland's Engman and Iskanius – but to no avail.

 

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