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Danes hold their nerve as Austria's penalty prowess deserts them

Denmark players celebrate their team's victory during the UEFA Women's Euro 2017 Semi Final match between Denmark and Austria at Rat Verlegh Stadion on August 3, 2017 in Breda, Netherlands. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
by Simon Ecker, AIPS Young Reporter, Germany

BREDA, August 3, 2017 – An Austrian penalty nightmare opened Denmark's eyes to a place in Sunday's final at the UEFA Women's EURO 2017.

Austria, tournament newcomers, missed a spotkick in normal time and then all three in the shootout to crumble 3-0 on penalties after a goalless extra-time draw in Breda.

The football fates thus repaid the Austrians cruelly for their own shootout victory over Spain in the quarter-finals of their midsummer dream.

A physical game with a dozen of interruptions saw Austria awarded their first penalty in only the 12th minute only for Sarah Puntigam to shoot over the bar.

In the showdown Austria's Laura Feiersinger, Viktoria Pinther and Verena Aschauer all lost their nerve from 11metres while Denmark's Nadia Nadim, Pernille Harder and Nicoline Sorensen all scored in confident style.

This will be the Danes' first appearance in a Women’s Euro final after five previous semi-final exits.

The first thrill erupted in the ninth minute when Danish captain Harder went down in the box after a counter-attack but the referee’s whistle remained silent. At the other end of the pitch, by contrast, a handball by defender Maja Kildemoes was punished with the penalty which Puntigam smashed high over the bar.

Better chances fell subsequently to Denmark. First, right winger Sanne Troelsgaard tested Austrian goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger before hitting the bar from the corner of the penalty box. Austria responded with a header from Virginia Kirchberger which narrowly off target.

The match was marked by several hard tackles and interruptions with Austrian Nicole Billa being injured and substituted after a foul in the 38th minute.

Nicole Billa of Austria receives medical attention after sustaining an injury. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

The second half began in a similar manner. Simone Boye Sorensen forced the Austrian goalkeeper into one save and then Harder missed from close range. Nina Burger went close for Austria before Harder was just too late to reach a cross in the closing minutes of normal time.

The extra halfhour saw two tired teams create a further handful of chances.

Katrine Veje (twice), Harder (three times), Nadim and Troelsgaard threatened for Denmark and Burger for Austria before the decisive shootout.

Follow Simon Ecker on Twitter @simon_ec94

Nadia Nadim of Denmark shoots goalwards under pressure from Virginia Kirchberger of Austria. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images

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