Holders France will take on Spain in the final of this year’s UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championship.
Spain progressed to their fourth Women’s U19 Euros final in a row after easing past The Netherlands 3-2 at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park this afternoon.
And hours later France caused a major upset when they overcame Germany, who were the favourites to lift the trophy, in the second semi-final in Belfast - to set up a repeat of last year’s final, which ended 2-1 to the French in Slovakia.
Both teams will be back at the National Football Stadium on Sunday for the decider, which kicks off at 7.30pm.
There was also joy for England this evening when they defeated Scotland 2-0 in a play-off for a place in next year’s FIFA WU20 World Cup in France.
Here’s a round-up of today’s games…
Netherlands 2 Spain 3
Spain and The Netherlands served up an action-packed game, especially after the break, in the first of today’s WU19 Euros semi-finals.
Spurred on by captain Aitana Bonmati, who was suspended for the group games, the Spanish edged the match 3-2 due to superior movement and passing along with penetrating attacking play.
The Dutch started the game brightly and winger Quinty Sabajo headed against the bar after only two minutes. Then Lucia Garcia had the ball in the net for Spain in the 10th minute but her effort was ruled out because she was in an offside position when she received the ball from Bonmati.
The Dutch defensive line produced some great blocks to keep the Spanish out in the opening half-hour but on 32 minutes it was almost breached when Bonmati smashed a shot against the crossbar from 18 yards.
In the 39th minute Netherlands winger Ashleigh Weerden crossed for Joelle Smits in the six-yard box but she headed wide of the target when well placed.
Spain made the breakthrough on 46 minutes when Garcia got in behind the Dutch defence and raced towards goal before coolly sliding the ball into the corner of the net.
However, a minute later it was all square. Smits robbed the ball from the Spanish defence and found Victoria Pelova, who showed composure to evade a challenge in the box and shoot beyond the reach of Spanish keeper Noelia Ramos.
On 67 minutes Spain got their second when Guijarro got on the ball down the right and delivered a pinpoint cross to Maite Oroz who swept the ball into the net. The Spanish extended their lead 10 minutes later when a corner from Paula Fernandez was flicked on by Oroz for Guijarro to head home from close range.
The Dutch though didn’t know when they were beaten and ensured the game would have a nervy ending for the Spanish when they pulled a goal back through Smits on 85 minutes, the striker guiding in substitute Bente Jansen’s delivery from a corner.
But the Spanish had done enough to book their place in Sunday’s decider.
Germany 1 France 2
Holders France knocked favourites Germany out of the WU19 Euros in ‘a game of two halves’ at the National Football Stadium this evening.
Germany looked to be in total control and held a 1-0 lead at half-time but inspired substitutions from French coach Gilles Eyquem saw the game change as France ran out 2-1 winners thanks to goals from Julie Thibaud and Emelyne Laurent.
The Germans were the only side left in the competition with a 100% record - they scored 11 without reply in the group stages - and they started the brighter of the two sides in the second semi-final.
French centre back Julia Piga was on hand to clear the danger as Laura Freigang bore down on goal, and then a Freigang header drifted just wide.
Germany continued to dominate and had another opportunity when a mishap by the French defence gave Caroline Siems the opportunity to cut the ball back to the edge of the box but Luca Graf blasted the ball over the bar under pressure from Sarah Galera.
However, Germany did eventually have something to show for their dominance on 40 minutes when Klara Buhl was able to slot the ball low beyond French keeper Mylene Chavas after a neat exchange of passes between Freigang and Anna Gerhardt.
The French made two changes at the break with Chloe Pierel and Lina Boussaha making way for Julie Thibaud and Emelyne Laurent and it nearly paid off straight away when Laurent forced German keeper Vanessa Fischer into a save.
It wasn’t long before the Germans had their first chance of the second half and they arguably should have doubled their lead through Freigang after Gwinn had cushioned down Siems’ cross but the midfielder somehow hooked the ball wide from close range.
The French were a much better side in the second period and they found their way back into the game in the 70th minute when substitute Thibaud headed in Galera’s corner.
And it got even better for the holders when, just three minutes later, they went ahead thanks to Laurent who latched on to Mathilde Bourdieu’s through ball and guided the ball into the bottom left hand corner.
French striker Bourdieu nearly got her second and her team’s third when she rose highest to meet Goetsch’s whipped cross, but her glancing header drifted just wide of the post.
The Germans came close to equalising in injury time when a scramble in the box saw the ball falling to Freigang but her fierce drive was cleared off the line by a resolute French defence.
Scotland 0 England 2
The all-British play-off for a place at next year’s FIFA Women’s Under-20 World Cup in France was comfortably won by England.
England, who like Scotland earned a play-off slot after finishing third in their group at the WU19 Euros, ran out comfortable 2-0 winners.
Mo Marley’s side were on the front foot from the start at Mourneview Park. Winger Niamh Charles had the ball in the net after three minutes but her effort was ruled out due to an infringement.
In the ninth minute Scotland’s Amy Gallacher had to clear an Anna Patten header off the line before a great delivery from Patten was headed narrowly wide by England winger Alessia Russo and a minute later Scotland keeper Rebecca Flaherty produced a good stop from a Rinsola Babajide shot.
On 24 minutes Scotland produced their first meaningful effort when striker Kirsty Hanson hit the woodwork with a well-struck drive.
England took the lead in the 28th minute when midfielder Zoe Cross slammed the ball into the net from close range after an England corner caused confusion in the Scottish defence.
Within a minute Flaherty produced another fine save from a Patten strike and then Charles flashed a header just wide.
Scotland had another decent effort in the 38th minute when Gallacher found Shannon McGregor out wide and she produced an excellent shot which England keeper Sandy MacIver had to push round the post.
Four minutes into the second half England went two up. Mollie Rouse squeezed the loose ball into the net after Flaherty had initially made a good stop from a Megan Finnigan strike.
A great long range piledriver from Mayum Pacheco was superbly saved by Flaherty minutes later.
On 66 minutes Scotland defender Courtney Whyte had a strong header saved by MacIver and that was Scotland’s best chance of the half, although Hanson did come close with a curler on 78 minutes and McGregor tested MacIver with a well-struck shot.
In the 84th minute the lively Russo played in Cross but she shot straight at the keeper when well placed, however by that stage England had secured the win.