Denmark were unable to solve the riddle of Austria’s defense but after grinding out two hours of scoreless soccer—aided by a bit of good luck in the first half—advanced to the final match of the European Championship on the strength of two Stine Lyyke Petersen saves in penalty kicks.
The match nearly played out to a different narrative in the first quarter hour when an Austria corner kick was cleared to the top of the area and Verena Aschauer’s attempt to send it back in was blocked by the hand of Denmark midfielder Maja Kildemoes. Sarah Puntigam stepped up to take the penalty but could not reproduce her winner agaist Spain from the quarterfinal round and instead skied her attempt high to keep the match scoreless.
The match remained that way the rest of the half, and then through the second half. Neither team was shy to attack during extra time but neither were they able to find a goal. After 120 minutes scoreless, penalties ensued.
Four days earlier, Austria took five flawless penalties anchored by Puntigam to advance. On this night they imploded from the spot. Laura Feiersinger was first up and with an uneasy look to her approach, missed the frame altogether, similar to the way Puntigam did in regular time. After Denmark skipper Pernille Harder made it 2-0, Viktoria Pinther—who subbed on for Puntigam in extra time—had her kick saved by Petersen.
Manuela Zinsberger, who was excellent in the match as she was much of the tournament, kept things interesting by making a save on Sofie Pedersen. But any glimmer of hope for Austria was quickly wiped out when Petersen guessed right and denied Verena Aschauer. Needing to make only one of their final two kicks, Simone Boye Sorensen converted into the upper corner beyond an outstretched Zinsberger and Denmark were on their way to Sunday’s final.
Denmark advance to the final for the first time in the modern era of the European Championship following five prior exits in the semifinals. They may have to do without Washington Spirit midfielder Line Jensen, who came off with an injury. She was seen sitting by herself during the celebration, presumably unable to join in.
Austria go home disappointed but having not lost a match in their debut in the finals of the continental championship. The side conceded only one goal in five matches, two of which included an extra 30 minutes.
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