[EURO 2013] Even Pellerud says Sunday's final of the European Women's Championship against five-time defending champion Germany at Stockholm's Friends Arena will be an even bigger match than when he led Norway to the 1995 Women's World Cup title.
Norway moved into the final with a 4-2 shootout win over
Denmark on Thursday after their game in Norrkoping ended in a 1-1 tie. Ingrid Hjelmseth was the hero as she saved two penalties to end Denmark's run that
included a 0-0 tie with Germany in the tournament opener and a shootout win over heavily favored France in the quarterfinals.
scored for Norway in the third minute, but Mariann Knudsen equalized for Denmark with three minutes to play in regulation.
The wins sets up
a rematch of the group stage match won by Norway that ended the Germans' unbeaten streak of 59 games in the European Women's Championships (qualifying and finals) dating back more than 17 years.
"I guess most people are surprised by having Norway in the final as we were not mentioned among the favorites," Pellerud said. "I have to admit I did not count on that. We had top four as a
goal, and that was even stretching reality. It has been a magnificent event, the hosts have been phenomenal. 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."
In the quarterfinals, Denmark had knocked off France, getting a key save in the
shootout from Stina Petersen on Bleues star Louisa Necib's shot. Petersen had stopped two Germany penalty kicks in the
tournament opener that ended in a 0-0 tie.
Germany has won the last five Women's European Championships with wins over Sweden (1995 and 2001), Italy (1997), Norway (2005) and England
Germany also won the first official European women's title in 1991 with a 3-1 overtime win in the final, and Norway won the second title two years later.