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Alert Engman keeps Finland on their toes

Adelina Engman said she is always ready after her late goal against Norway left Finland on the brink of the semis, finishing that both coaches agreed was the difference between the teams.

Biding her time: Adelina Engman
Biding her time: Adelina Engman ©Sportsfile

Adelina Engman said she is always ready after staying alert to fire Finland to a hard-fought victory that eliminated Norway and kept their own UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship semi-final hopes alive and well.

The Group B fixture hung in the balance when, 12 minutes from time, Engman pounced. "The goal came from a very good cross from our right-back [Emma Koivisto]," she said. "I was pretty free towards the back post and luckily it found me to head it into the goal.

"It can be pretty hard concentrating, to always be ready when your team aren't attacking so much, but you have to, and you have to take your chance when it comes. We knew Norway were very fast and strong in the transition so we wouldn't get so many chances, that we'd have to score any that came our way."

That clinical finishing and Norway's own lack of cutting edge was, both coaches agreed, ultimately the difference between the teams. As Finland's Marianne Miettinen put it: "We know that we don't need too many chances as we have good forwards. We get maybe one or two chances and score a goal. That was enough."

Engman's header sent the decibels rising even higher among the vocal cabal of Finland fans at the back of South Stand at the Parc y Scarlets. The forward's mum and dad were among them, raising their voices first when Finland needed a lift amid concerted early pressure and then again as hope of victory rose.

"A lot of our families are over here watching us, singing for us and supporting us," said Engman. "They are noisy. I don't know if it's a Finnish thing but I like it." The team is not exactly quiet either. Part of Finland's warm-up routine involves the squad standing in a circle and, in perfect harmony, shouting what they are doing as they mime passing, shooting, heading.

It helps foster a good atmosphere in a squad who will face Group B leaders Germany on Sunday knowing they only need a draw to go through. "We're up against some good opposition here so the pressure is on to keep playing at a high level," said Engman. "We're aiming high, all the way to the final, but obviously first we have to get to the semis."

For the Åland United youngster that would provide some consolation after just missing out on the senior squad for this summer's UEFA WOMEN's EURO 2013. "It's good to be here – I'm still young so if I keep on playing, keep on improving, my time will come." The patient approach certainly served Engman and Finland well on Thursday.