England happy with luck of draw in avoiding Germany - International - Football - The Independent

England happy with luck of draw in avoiding Germany

England Women 1 Sweden Women 1

Fortune favoured England in Finland last night as this draw secured a third-place finish in the group stages of the Uefa Women's European Championship finals. This may not sound impressive, but the organisational necessities of a 12-team tournament mean they still qualified for the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time since 1995.

It also means they avoid Germany, the hot favourites, in the quarter-finals, and any putative semi-final. Instead Hope Powell's team will remain in the port city of Turku to play the hosts on Thursday. The drawback is that Finland will have had two days' extra rest.

Captain Faye White said: "We are just happy to go through, we've been through everything this week, going down to 10 [women] against Italy, coming back from two-down against Russia. That performance against a good Swedish side shows our character. It's good not to have to move again, and fantastic to miss Germany. Finland will have a big crowd behind them but that will lift us too."

A draw was always likely to suit both sides, but while neither team threw caution to the wind there was enough action to dispel charges of a fix. England went ahead in the 28th-minute when White, headed in Karen Carney's cross following a tapped free-kick. Ten minutes later White's Arsenal team-mate, Katie Chapman, brought down Lotta Schelin from behind. Victoria Sandell-Svensson dispatched the penalty.

In a quieter second period Kelly Smith twice tested Hedvig Lindahl from distance and White put a late header just over. Had that gone in England's celebrations would have been cut short as they absorbed the ramifications of facing Germany.

England (4-2-3-1): Brown (Everton); A Scott (Boston Breakers), White (Arsenal), Johnson (Everton), Stoney (Chelsea); Chapman (Arsenal), Williams (Everton); Carney (Chicago Red Stars), K Smith (Boston Breakers), S Smith (Leeds Carnegie); Aluko (St Louis Athletica), Substitutes used: Westwood (Everton) for Aluko, 64; Clarke (Leeds Carnegie) for S Smith, 90.

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