It is now certain that a new champion will emerge at the ongoing UEFA Women’s EURO after the tournament’s favourites all fumbled, giving room for underdogs to thrive and make history.
Germany are eight-time champions, Norway have lifted the trophy twice while Sweden claimed it once, but these teams are no longer in the picture.
2013 runners-up, Norway were the first to crash out in embarrassing fashion from the group stage without scoring a single goal, then Sweden were shown the way out of the Netherlands by the hosts themselves in the quarter-finals.
In front of a sold-out colourful crowd the Netherlands intimidated their Swedish opponents with two unreplied goals from Lieke Martens and Vivianne Miedema and progressed to the semi-finals of the Women’s EURO for the second time in three appearances.
The biggest shock however was served hot and spicy at the Sparta Stadion in Rotterdam where the curtains fell on Germany’s 22-year reign as a result of Denmark’s dazzling second half comeback. The Danes defeated the defending champions 2-1 and will now face Austria in the semis.
Meanwhile Austria are still writing their own piece of history in the Netherlands after seeing off Spain 5-3 on penalties. The debutants have now progressed to the last four hoping their fairytale continues.
Then England became the last team to complete the semi-finals line up with a hard-fought historic victory over France, a team they had not beaten since 1974.
A well-tailored goal by Jodie Taylor off a delightful Lucy Bronze cross did the magic for the Lionesses. It was top scorer Taylor’s fifth goal of the tournament and she said, at the mixed zone afterwards, that studying goalkeepers helps her a lot.
So it’s the Netherlands taking on England in the second semi-final kick-off on Thursday. Both have been the most in-form teams in the tournament and coach of the Lionesses, Mark Sampson believes his side can cope with the hosts’ 12th player.
Thursday 3, August
Denmark vs Austria
Netherlands vs England