FINAL: Italy 0 – Finland 0
The opening match of 2013 EURO action in Örjans vall, Halmstad between Italy and Finland was a mostly lackluster stalemate between the two sides, with Italy failing to capitalize on any of its multiple scoring opportunities. The Azzurre should be frustrated by only coming away with one point from the opening match, whereas Finland’s extensive preparation for the match canceled out any offensive woes.
The Italians had an excellent chance in the 28th minute from Melania Gabbiadini, but her shot went wide of the post. Finnish keeper Tinja-Rilkka Korpela would have had little chance of stopping it had it been on frame. Finland wouldn’t be credited with a shot until the 42nd minute, but it was truly nowhere near the goal.
The second half turned into a more physical affair, with three players from Finland all picking up yellow cards, including Anna Westerlund. Despite Italy’s continued possession, there were no results in the final third, and the game closed without any truly dangerous offensive moments for either side in the second half.
Italy: Marchitelli (GK), Bartoli, Salvai, D’Adda, Manieri, Tuttino, Stracchi, Parisi, Gabbiadini, Panico (C), Camporese (70′ Iannella); Head Coach: Antonio Cabrini
Finland: Korpela (GK, C), Lehtinen, Kivistö, Westerlund, Hyyrynen, Alanen, Kukkonen, Heroum, Tolvanen (73′ Kuikka), Sjölund (61′ Lyytikäinen), Talonen; Head Coach: Andrée Jeglertz
Referee: Teodora Albon (ROU); Assistant referees: Petruta Iugulescu (ROU), Lucie Ratajová (CZE); Fourth Official: Monika Mularczyk (POL)
By half: 1 2 Final
Italy 0 0 0
Finland 0 0 0
By team: Italy Finland
Shots on goal 4 0
Shots 10 3
Corners 1 1
Fouls 9 16
Yellow cards 1 3
Red cards 0 0
FINAL: Denmark 1 – Sweden 1
The second match of opening day, this time at Gamla Ullevi, Gothenburg, between host nation Sweden and Denmark proved to be a wild ride, including two penalty kicks for Sweden and two massive saves from Denmark’s goalkeeper Stina Petersen to keep the final score level.
While the two nations are only geographically separated by the Kattegat Strait, most expected Sweden to easily distance themselves from Denmark in this match to take the lead in Group A. Denmark took control of the game early, and Mariann Knudsen won the honor of first goal scored in the tournament in the 26th minute. But it wouldn’t take long for Sweden to equalize in the 35th minute on a header from Nilla Fischer.
After that, it was Petersen’s show to steal in front of a sell-out crowd of 16, 128.
With referee Bibiana Steinhaus having a noticeably off day, Sweden was granted two penalty kicks in the second half. The first was a result of Denmark’s Christina Ørntoft dragging down Kosovare Asllani, though replays would show the foul clearly occurred outside of the box. Lotta Schelin, the face of the tournament and women’s soccer in Sweden, stepped up to take the penalty and was neatly denied by Stina Petersen.
Asllani would get her own chance to put one between the pipes in the 85th minute after Theresa Nielsen was called for a handball in the box (another call that was hotly debated by both the commentators and social media, as the contact between Nielsen’s elbow and the ball was certainly unintentional). Petersen had an easy job of the second penalty kick, as Asllani telegraphed her intent to put the ball left and lacked any real velocity on the shot.
While the result certainly wasn’t what host nation Sweden was hoping for, head coach Pia Sundhage said she was satisfied with the result. “It is a long tournament and we have two more games. The fact we couldn’t score from two penalty kicks, that’s not the best situation. But at the end of the day we played in front of a big crowd, we have started the first game and now we are in the tournament.”
Sundhage also couldn’t escape her previous gig as U.S. women’s national team head coach during the post-game press conference, but noted that this match had a special resonance to her than most U.S. games.
“I loved [the pressure]. I’m used to it. It is different [to the United States] as I am a Swedish coach, so it was a little bit special. I was very proud that the stadium was packed, more so than when I was coach in the States.”
Sweden: K. Hammarström (GK), Rohlin, Fischer, Thunebro, Schelin (C), Asllani, Göransson (63′ Dahlkvist), Öqvist (79′ Jakobsson), Seger, Samuelsson, M. Hammarström; Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
Denmark: Petersen (GK), Røddik, Søndergaard Pedersen (C); Ørntoft, Knudsen, Harder, Veje (62′ Rydahl), Rasmussen (89′ Jensen), Pedersen (46′ Nadim), Nielsen, Brogaard; Head Coach: Kenneth Heiner-Møller
Referee: Bibiana Steinhaus (GER); Assistant referees: Marina Wozniak (GER), Maria Luisa Guiterrez (ESP); Fourth Official: Esther Azzopardi (MLT)
By half: 1 2 Final
Sweden 1 0 1
Denmark 1 0 1
26′ Denmark: Mariann Knudsen (unassisted)
35′ Sweden: Nilla Fischer (Thunebro)
By team: Sweden Denmark
Shots on goal 5 4
Shots 9 8
Corners 8 1
Fouls 6 10
Yellow cards 0 2
Red cards 0 0
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