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Then there were four... Dutch dramas ensures new name on Euro trophy

Shanice van de Sanden of the Netherlands celebrates victory during the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 quarter final match between Netherlands and Sweden. (Photo: Getty Images)
by Jeroen Adriaanse, AIPS Young Reporter, the Netherlands

DEVENTER, July 30, 2017 - Anyone searching for a modern sports fairy-tale story need look no further than the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017.

After starting with 16 teams only four remain for Thursday's semi-finals following a day full of surprises including the exit of Steffi Jones’s German champions.

The Netherlands' victory over Sweden on Saturday means that both finalists from last year's Olympics are out of Euro 2017.

Finals newcomers Austria, however, are still alive after defeating Spain 5-3 on penalties after a goalless extra-time draw in Tilburg.

England completed the semi-final line-up by defeating France, for the first time in 43 years, by 1-0 in Deventer.

Tournament top scorer Jodie Taylor was again decisive with her fifth goal to secure a semi-final clash with hosts Netherlands in Enschede. Denmark's triumph against Germany earned them a showdown with Austria in Breda.

The outcome of the quarter-finals means that a new name is guaranteed to be added to the UEFA Euro roll of honour.

---Miedema breakthrough

The Netherlands ensured their 2-0 win over Sweden in Doetincham when star striker Vivianne Miedema finally found the back of the net for their second goal and end her finals-long goal drought.

The presence of Lieke Martens, Jackie Groenen, Shanice van de Sanden and Miedema in their side means the Netherlands have one of the most exciting squads of the tournament.

One worry for head coach Sarina Wiegman might be her team’s defensive resilience bearing in mind the ruthless form displayed by England against France.

--- Austria stun Spain

Austria, at their first major tournament, found themselves in football dreamland on reaching the semi-finals at the first time of asking. Inspired by Nina Burger, Dominik Thalhammer’s side have surpassed the expectations of their own fans.

The first shootout of the knockout stage decided the outcome. Austria converted five kicks while goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger saved decisively from Silvia Meseguer.

Austria had not practised penalties beforehand.

Thalhammer said: "Training and match situations are two different things. We worked on penalties mentally and we developed a play, and that worked. We have practiced penalties in the past and lost so we decided on a new approach.”

Spain thus went 348 minutes without scoring on their way out of the Euros. Coach Jorge Vilda had omitted from the finals his two top scorers from qualifying in Vero Boquete (eight goals) and Sonia Bermúdez (six).

Austria celebrate Spain missing a penalty in the penalty shoot-out during the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 quarter final match between Austria and Spain (Photo: Getty Images).

--- Danish dynamite

Denmark caused a major upset by ending Germany’s 22-year reign as European champions with a deserved 2-1 victory after their best performance yet.

A combination of steely determination and on-field class could see Denmark springing another shock by making it all the way to a final against the Netherlands or England.

The Denmark team celebrate victory after the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 quarterfinal match between Germany and Denmark. (Photo: Getty Images)

--- England dream on

England reached the semi-finals for the fifth time in 33 years by defeating France in Deventer on a second-half goal from Jodie Taylor. She is now one goal away from matching German Inka Grings’s record of six in one UEFA Women’s tournament.

Taylor's goal also set up a repeat of the 2009 semi-final when they defeated the Netherlands 2-0 on their way to a final defeat by Germany.

For England then so now for three of the four teams surviving at Euro 2017: Not every fairy story has a happy ending.

Follow Jeroen Adriaanse on Twitter @J_Adriaanse

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