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England are through to the Final of the UEFA Under-19 Championships for the third time in four years after beating Holland 5-4 in a penalty shootout following a dour goalless draw.
The win was no more than England deserved against a negative Dutch side who only mustered one serious attempt on goal during a largely tedious 120 minutes.
The pattern of the game was established from the very start as Holland sat back and defended in depth whilst England struggled to break them down with the final ball letting them down on too many occasions. As a result, chances were scarce with Toni Duggan going closest with a 20-yard strike which flew straight at Roxanne van den Berg in the Dutch goal.
Holland produced their only threatening effort just before half time when a free kick was played to Siri Worm whose shot was turned around the post by Rebecca Spencer. England hit back almost straight away, Demi Stokes making a driving run towards goal before finding Duggan whose shot was saved.
After the break, England continued to do most of the attacking with the tireless Jordan Nobbs constantly pushing forward from midfield. However it was from set pieces that they looked most dangerous, firstly as a Dutch defender nearly diverted a Jess Holbrook corner into her own net, then Gilly Flaherty's header was cleared off the line by Carmen Manduapessij.
Gemma Bonner, who was outstanding in defence with Lucy Bronze, powered a header over the bar but England could not find a way through as the game went into extra time.
The extra period contained barely an opportunity at either end, Isobel Christiansen firing a left foot shot over the bar and, whilst the Dutch did show more attacking ambition, the England back four ensured that goalkeeper Spencer was rarely called into action.
Jordan Nobbs slotted home England's first penalty to put them level at 1-1 and then, from Holland's second kick, captain Worm missed the target. Christiansen then put England in front before Holbrook and Bonner produced equally well taken penalties, leaving Flaherty to confidently slot home the winning kick and send her side through.
England will face France in the Final on Saturday afternoon in Skopje, the match due to be televised on Eurosport.
England: Rebecca Spencer, Lyndsey Cunningham, Gilly Flaherty, Abbie Prosser, Lucy Bronze, Gemma Bonner, Isobel Christiansen, Jordan Nobbs, Toni Duggan, Jessica Holbrook, Demi Stokes (sub Rebecca Jane 118mins). Subs not used: Lauren Davey, Lauren Bruton, Shelby Hills, Sam Chappell, Drew Spence, Jodie Jacobs.
Holland: Roxanne van den Berg, Kika van Es, Helene Heemskerk (sub Stephanie van der Gragt 118mins), Siri Worm, Kirsten Marjon Bakker, Carmen Manduapessij (sub Desiree van Lunteren 69mins), Ellen Jansen, Merel van Dongen, Lieke Martens, Tessa Oudejans (sub Kirsten Koopmans 80mins), Mauri van de Wetering. Subs not used: Eline Sol, Lucienne Reichardt, Shanice van de Sanden, Vanity Lewerissa.
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