Swiss knock out holders Germany to make first final

An 80th-minute goal from Switzerland substitute Amira Arfaoui knocked out UEFA European Women’s Under-17 Championship holders Germany and took the underdogs into their first-ever final at this level.

Arfaoui finished with aplomb Switzerland’s last opportunity of an engaging Reykjavik semi-final just when a second last-four shoot-out of the day seemed inevitable. The No18 pounced from Alisha Lehmann’s assist after a left-wing cross from Nathalie Lienhard to give the Swiss – beaten semi-finalists in 2012 – a first shot at the title. The dramatic conclusion also drew a line under Germany’s pursuit of a fifth WU17 crown.

Jenny Hipp had the first shot in anger but it will have comforted Swiss coach Monica Di Fonzo that the two occasions Germany’s six-goal tournament top scorer Stefanie Sanders went on the rampage, she was forced inside and crowded out. Though the No9 pulled one attempt wide and drove another over, the Group B winners were holding their own despite ceding a clear physical advantage to the four-time continental champions.

Further upfield Swiss forward Géraldine Reuteler hustled relentlessly, encouraging attacking intent from Alisha Lehmann and Jolanda Stampfli, the match winner against France rewarded with a start. With Germany’s best moments coming on the transition, however, the Alpine team were perhaps understandably reluctant to open up.

After the first-half cat-and-mouse, Giulia Gwinn nearly gobbled up a chance moments after the restart, then Sanders tried her luck after a penetrating surge by Hipp. She came closer still following a five-on-five break as the 579 spectators willed a breakthrough. Switzerland nearly provided it, German goalkeeper Vanessa Fischer tipping over Naomi Mégroz’s free-kick before Lara Jenzer broke into the box and forced a great low save. Reuteler’s late efforts also hinted at a dramatic finale.

Yet even when Switzerland advanced their sphere of operations, Isabella Möller and Hipp reminded them of Germany’s offensive threat. This was reiterated when Sanders fired against keeper Nadja Furrer and skipper Mégroz had to clear bravely from Gwinn. Even in the last minute, Sanders warmed the palms of Furrer before Di Fonzo’s side countered to deliver their delicious coup de grace.