A nervous occasion for both, Austria in their first ever semi-final and Denmark a team that had so often fallen in the last four of the Euros, the early tempo was slow. The Danes happy to possess the ball, moving it across their pushed up back-line when necessary, searching and probing for an opening in the banks of white shirts. Against an Austrian team who have shown they’re more than happy to sit back and counter when their opponents are relaxed, Denmark were having no joy in the opening minutes.
Austria countered with ease, Laura Feiersinger earning a corner for her troubles six minutes in, the shot set-piece left and rolled towards goal. The ball cleared from near the line but Austria still pressed, the ball finally brought clear by Pernille Harder who took it all the way into the box before being felled. The referee, Kateryna Monzul however, saw things differently and waved play on.
It was quite a different story at the other end of the pitch though, as a searing run from Nina Burger brought about another corner, Verena Aschauer’s volley knocked clear by a Danish hand, a penalty awarded in the eleventh minute. Having come through a shoot-out to earn their place in the last four, Austria should have been more than comfortable from 12-yards but yet, Sarah Puntigam failed to hit the target, the ball sent clear over Lykke’s bar.
Austria hold firm
After the period of Austrian pressure, the Danes once again began to possess the ball and search for a way through, Sanne Troelsgaard’s weak effort from outside the box a waste of a good opportunity. The Rosengård woman able to muster something better minutes later when she whipped one from the right side of the box, the ball picked up by the wind and knocked against the apex of Manuela Zinsberger’s goal.
A poor headed clearance from Line Røddik saw the ball drop nicely for Burger, her volley unfortunately wayward as white shirts began to creep forward again before being pegged back by red.
Frustrated by a steely Austrian defence, Denmark did themselves no favours, consistently looking to go through the middle of the crowded pitch, Therese Nielsen and Katrine Veje the only ones who could find space, routinely ignored. The tempo raised when Maja Kildemoes and Nicole Billa clashed, the latter left formed and needing to be substituted as Denmark advanced. Poor ball control stopped the move dead before Nadine Prohaska made her second substitute appearance for an injured attacker in as many games, Austria turning the heat back up.
Sharper in attack
A dinked ball from Sarah Zadrazil had Burger played in, the Austrian attack looking sharper as well as the Danish but both remained sub-par in the early minutes of the second-half. On course to have another second-half revival, Simone Boye came close ten minutes into the second period, her header from Nadia Nadim’s flick turned around by Zinsberger before the Bavarian smothered the second corner.
But still Austria made it hard for the red and whites to get a clear footing in the game, any good work from the Scandinavians met with firm defending and even better attacking from the debutantes. A cutting move saw Denmark carve out a chance, Pernille Harder’s shot cleared behind for a corner, the ball fast knocked around the near post for another corner, this one deeper and easily dealt with.
With the Danes down to ten when Line Sigvardsen was off receiving treatment, Austria went close again, the ball nodded over at a dangerous corner asking the question, will we see a goal in 90 minutes? Austria already having had to come through two long hours against Spain just four days previous, but with little more than 20 minuets left the game still begged its first goal.
The minutes ticked by and the game remained stilted, both sides still sloppy but Austria far more composed in defence to keep Demark out, conversely they posed more threat going forward but kept undoing themselves with poor passing.
A dropped ball following a clash in the box saw Denmark make one last run forward, Frederikke Thøgersen sending Harder’s through ball back a cross goal for her captain, Carina Wenninger there to knock it out. The first corner saw another chance for the Danes, again Austria remained firm, the second saw more bodies tumbling into the goal, Zinsberger back to her feet with another dropped ball awarded.
The last kick of the game, Aschauer’s hopeful volley that ended up skied over the bar at a late, late corner, with extra time required.
A better move from the red and whites at the start of the first period of extra time saw Zinsberger called back into action to claim Veje’s hopeful volley. The game suddenly open after an hour and a half, both sides finally looking more like scoring.
Taking one for the team, Zadrazil was left on a yellow after hauling Harder back as the attacker broke, the captain’s subsequent free-kick grabbed by Zinsberger at the back post before the Bayern Munich keeper easily claimed Troelsgaard’s hopeful punt. Both teams continued to attack, Austria far better at getting white shirts across the pitch in numbers, especially still so reliable about crowding their own box.
Even with the game more stretched both sides remained frustrated, another shot from range came in just before the break, Viktoria Schnaderbeck the one to fire helplessly over.
The change of ends gave Austria another chance to fall into shape at the restart, the second lot of extra time they’d faced in just four days taking its’ toll as the team left gaps, another chance fell for Denmark but again the effort was wayward. Veje’s shot from range two thirds of the way through was at least on target but like everything else, well claimed by the ‘keeper. Prohaska’s shot at the other end of the pitch, was, however, not.
Another more incisive move saw red get forward again, Harder’s neat lay-off for Veje whipped at goal by the new Montpellier signing, the shot whistling just over the crossbar. The seconds were ticking by, just two minutes left of the two hours and it looked like Austria would be heading for their second shoot-out this week. Time fully run out and the pair heading to the spot.
Nadim was first up from the spot, her shot right into the top left corner leaving Zinsberger no chance. (1-0) Just like the last time out, Feiersinger was first for Austria but just like Puntigam during the ninety minutes, her shot from 12-yards flew over the bar. (1-0)
Harder found the inside of the post with her shot, Zinsberger undeceived but nothing she could do about it (2-0). Going left, Viktoria Pinther saw her effort saved by Lykke (2-0).
With little pressure on her, Sofie Junge replicated Pinter’s shot, to the left and saved at a comfortable height by the keeper. (2-0) Another who scored last time out, Aschauer made it a hat-trick of saves to the left, Lykke victorious again. (2-0).
Needing just to convert, Boye made no mistake, blasting her spot kick to the top right corner and sending Denmark into their first ever Euro final. (3-0)