Norway ‘surprised’ to reach Euro 2013 final

Norway 'surprised' to reach Euro 2013 final
Norway celebrate reaching the Euro 2013 final. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand (AFP)
Norway coach Even Pellerud has admitted she's 'surprised' her side have made it to the last two of the football tournament.

Women's football superpower Germany will bid for a record sixth successive European title on Sunday when they face old foes and two-time champions Norway in Solna.

"I guess most people are surprised by having Norway in the final as we were not mentioned among the favourites; I have to admit that I did not count on that," she said.

"We had top four as a goal, and that was even stretching reality.

"To play the final on Sunday in front of 50,000, it's going to be hard to top that experience. To me that is even bigger than the World Cup final in '95 and the Olympic bronze final in '96," added Pellerud, who coached Norway to 1995 World Cup glory over the Germans.

Germany dumped out hosts Sweden to move within a victory of an eighth European crown, while surprise finalists Norway turned back the clock as they held their nerves to beat Scandinavian rivals Denmark on penalties to set up a fourth finals showdown with the Germans.

Germany triumphed on all three previous occasions – 1989 (as West Germany), 1991 and 2005 – with Norway's 1993 title representing the only blemish on the Germans' record in the competition since the fall of the Berlin wall.

Germany, also winners of both the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, go into Sunday's encounter favoured to claim another European title but Norway will be full of confidence following a 1-0 win over Silvia Neid's side in the group stage.

As for Pellerud's counterpart Neid, who won three European championships as a player with Germany before steering her team to the title as coach in 2009,
admitted she was pleased her side had fulfilled their pre-tournament ambitions.

"I'm happy to have achieved our goal of reaching the final.Our hard work paid off and got us through (Wednesday's) game (against Sweden).

"In the build-up to the tournament, we had a lot of fun working together, with young players who are intelligent, have goals and are willing to learn. If you get results, obviously morale grows."

Despite a slow start to the competition, experienced German centre-half Saskia Bartusiak stressed the key to success was peaking when it mattered most.

"There are always ups and downs, but the key is to be at one's best at the right time. That is essential in a tournament and we managed this quite well."

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