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The England Deaf Women's Futsal team are through to the World Cup semi finals after an impressive 1-0 quarter final victory over Denmark in Sofia.
An early goal set them up for a semi final clash against Germany, to be played on Friday.
After convincingly finishing top of Group B, England entered the quarter final tie against Denmark with high spirits and confidence, wanting to be the first England women's squad to reach a World Cup Semi Final.
The game started with neither team wanting to risk any mistakes, and therefore were both reluctant to attack with no goal threats, and goalkeepers remaining untested. Despite having most of the possession, Denmark were unable to breakdown an organised England defence, forcing the Danes towards their own goal.
In the 5th minute the deadlock was broken, when Carly Waters passed to Esther Maycock enabling a blistering shot from the halfway line by the returning captain, Susan McKeown, which rifled past the standing Danish goalkeeper.
The game continued with long distance shots dominating both teams' attacking play, until the 12th minute when the Danish broke down the resilient English defence, but Waters continued her inspired form with a low save to the right hand side.
The remaining 13 minutes lacked goalscoring opportunities, with England going into the break having control, and a one goal advantage.
The half time team talk encouraged players to relax in possession, and also emphasised the importance of the result, rather than performance. Strange tactics from England's opposition suited their game plan, as Denmark were happy to drop off, and play the ball across their back line. This played into England's hands, allowing them time on the ball.
The first sign of danger that Denmark imposed was a long range shot in the 33rd minute, which Waters comfortably tipped over the crossbar. The game continued with limited attacking play with England happy to keep the ball and run down the clock.
In the final ten minutes Denmark were still chasing the game and applied pressure to the England players, forcing some foul play and leaving England to concede five free kicks. Such pressure put England's nerves to the test, knowing that any further foul in the remainder of the match would lead to a penalty kick. England managed to prevent further fouls and continued with the disciplined shape that had limited Denmark throughout the game.
With two minutes remaining, the last drama of the game saw an advancing Danish striker intercept a square pass along the England back line, presenting her with a one-on-one situation with goalkeeper Waters. Once again Waters stood tall to outwit the striker and tip the ball past the post to perform heroics and secure England a place in the Semi Finals against Germany.
After the game, England's Laura Wiseman said "We are overjoyed to the be the first womens team to reach the semi finals of a World Cup. We defended very well and thoroughly deserved to beat Denmark. We are in high spirits and full of confidence to face the Germans."
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