Final awaits in Finland

England's women qualify for European final

September 6, 2009

Substitute Jill Scott scored the headed winner four minutes from the end of extra-time as England's women beat Holland 2-1 in Tampere, Finland, to take their place in the European Championship final for the first time for 25 years.

Scott, who plays for Everton and whose nickname is 'Crouch' because she has adopted the Tottenham striker's robotic celebration, bundled the ball past the despairing grasp of Dutch goalkeeper Loes Geurts from close range.

It means England will contest the final on Thursday in Helsinki against either Germany or Norway, who battle it out in the second semi-final tomorrow.

No-one could say England, whose only other appearance in the final came in the inaugural tournament in 1984 when they lost to Sweden, did not deserve their victory after a match they dominated.

It was a semi-final in which chances and goalmouth action were at a premium, a contrast between England's attacking flair and Dutch defensive solidity.

England enjoyed most of the possession and the highlight of the first half was one slaloming run from Kelly Smith, complete with Cruyff-like spin, which ended with a right-foot shot which cannoned back off a defender.

England coach Hope Powell threw on Karen Carney for Sue Smith at half-time and urged her players to step up the pace. It worked, Eniola Aluko surging into the Dutch penalty area after 62 minutes to lay back a precise pass for Kelly Smith to sweep a left-foot shot into the bottom corner. It was Smith's second goal of the tournament.

The lead was to last just three minutes, however, sloppy defending in England's ranks allowing Manon Melis to cross for Marlous Pieete to fire home a snap shot past goalkeeper Rachel Brown for the Dutch equaliser.

Holland survived two hand ball appeals against Dutch captain Daphne Koster and Petra Hogewoning in the last 10 minutes of normal time as England pressed forward.

And England should have gone ahead at the start of extra-time when Carney worked her way to the by-line and crossed, only to see Lianne Sanderson contrive to strike the crossbar with what should have been an easy tap-in.

Scott, however, popped up just in time to spare Sanderson's embarrassment and set up a potentially historic final.