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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 June 2005, 08:44 GMT 09:44 UK
How Women's Euros have evolved
By Peter Scrivener

Germany receive the 2001 trophy
Germany celebrate their third consecutive Championship victory
Since their appearance in the final of the first Women's European Championship in 1984, England have failed to come close to winning the title again.

But the tournament itself has moved on in leaps and bounds since those early days to become the Uefa Women's Championship.

In that inaugural tournament 16 teams competed in four qualifying groups over two years to reach the two-legged semi-finals and final.

However, the Championship has altered radically in the intervening years.

For the 1984-87 Championship, the four group winners assembled in one country to decide the winner, while the following tournament saw two-legged quarter-finals and a four-team final round.

The major change to the 1989-91 tournament saw its rebranding as the Uefa European Women's Championship and the format remained the same for the 91-93 event.

Two years later and little had changed again although games were lengthened from 40 minutes each way to a full 45 minutes.

The 1995-97 Championship though brought the most radical change in the history of the event as an eight-team finals competition was introduced.

There were a record 33 entrants for the qualifying stages and the teams were split into two divisions - the top 16 competed in four pools to decide qualification, while the other 17 competed for promotion for the next event.

The Championship is now held every four years, due to the introduction of the Women's World Cup back in 1991.

And for the 2005 tournament, Sweden, Denmark, France and Germany qualified as group winners while Finland, Italy and Norway came through play-offs involving the four runners-up from the qualifying groups and the two best third-placed teams.

PAST WINNERS
1982-84 - Sweden
1984-86 - Norway
1987-89 - West Germany
1989-91 - West Germany
1991-93 - Norway
1993-95 - Germany
1995-97 - Germany
1999-2001 - Germany

England automatically qualify as hosts and will be hoping to at least repeat their showing in the opening tournament back in 1984.

They dominated qualifying group two for this year's tournament, scoring 24 goals and conceding just one in a section containing four teams from the British Isles.

A 2-1 win over Denmark at Crewe's Gresty Road followed by a 1-0 win in Hjorring propelled England into the final against Sweden.

The final was also played on a home-and-away basis and Pia Sundhage scored the only goal in Gothenburg to give the Swede's a slender advantage.

The return leg at Luton's Kenilworth Road ground saw Linda Curl level for the hosts and take the game into extra-time and penalties.

Sweden goalkeeper Elisabeth 'Lappen' Leidinge made a vital save and Sundhage converted the crucial penalty to win it.

The 1984-87 Championship saw England bow out at the semi-final stages - again losing to Sweden in a tight game, 3-2 after extra time.

Sweden though were denied consecutive Championship victories though when they were beaten 2-1 by hosts Norway in the Oslo final.

In the 1987-89 Championship, West Germany ended Norwegian hopes of back-to-back wins with a thumping 4-1 win in the final on home soil in Osnabruck.

West Germany brushed aside England 6-1 in a two-legged quarter-final in the 1989-91 Championship.

And for a second successive tournament, Norway were their opponents in the final.

The West Germans did not have it all their own way this time though, but managed to claim back-to-back titles with a 3-1 extra-time victory.

Following reunification, Germany went into the 1991-93 Championship searching for a third consecutive victory while Norway were chasing a third consecutive appearance in the final.

Norway did indeed reach the final with a 1-0 win over Denmark, but the Germans were edged out in the semi-finals by hosts Italy 5-4 on penalties.

The UEFA Women's European Championship Trophy
The UEFA Women's European Championship Trophy

And this time the Scandinavian side were not to be undone, clinching a second title with 1-0 victory in Cesena.

But then Germany took control of the tournament.

A return to home-and-away semi-final legs saw Germany beat England 6-2 and then claim their first title as a unified country with a 3-2 win over Sweden in Kaiserslautern.

The following tournament ran from 1995-97 but saw the introduction of a Finals stage, held in Norway.

The eight qualifying teams were split into two groups of four with the top two in each group proceeding to the semi-final stage.

Germany won only one of their three group games but still qualified and defeated Sweden, who had a 100% record in their group matches, 1-0 to reach the final.

Italy, who had held Germany to a 1-1 draw in their group game, were waiting in the Oslo final after beating Spain 2-1 in their semi.

But Germany were too powerful in the final and comfortably won 2-0.

The holders hosted the last Uefa Women's Championship in 2001 and again claimed the title.

England, who failed to qualify for the 1997 tournament, found themselves in Germany's group and were swept aside 3-0 by the hosts.

A 4-0 defeat to Sweden and a 1-1 draw with Russia spelled the end of their involvement.

But the German machine rolled on, beating Norway 1-0 in the semi-final and repeating that scoreline in the final with an extra-time golden goal to see-off Sweden in front of a crowd of 18,000.

Uefa allowed Germany to keep the trophy in recognition of their third victory.



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