The drama continued at New Zealand 2008, with a fanatical Auckland crowd proving insufficient to get the brave hosts over the line against their resilient European opposition. But while the dream concluded for the Young Football Ferns, Germany made sure of continuing theirs, booking a quarter-final place, while Korea DPR look a solid bet to accompany them from Group B after beating Costa Rica. In the other match, neither Colombia nor Canada could land a killer punch in an even encounter.
The big game
New Zealand 1-2 Denmark
The Kiwi dream ended in Auckland, but the host nation can be immensely proud of their U-17 women's team, who put up a magnificent fight against a classy Danish side in a passionate encounter. Annalie Longo looked set to be substituted early on after aggravating a calf injury, but confounded this impression by opening the scoring with a clever chip on 13 minutes. The hosts' lead didn't last long though, with a slick right-wing move leading to a Danish equaliser from Linette Andreasen just before the half-hour.
The second half was tight and tense, with both sides creating half-chances, but it was the Danes who scored one of the finest goals of the tournament to take the lead. Left-back Britta Olsen, starting from within her own half, went on an inspired, incisive run, beating three New Zealand players before sending an unstoppable low left-foot shot past Victoria Esson. The host team assailed the Danish goal from that point onwards, but the ball simply would not go in, and the final whistle sounded to groans all around the stadium. The hosts are out, but with great credit.
The other games
Canada put themselves into a strong position in Group A by holding on for a 1-1 draw with South American champions Colombia. The Canuck girls started strongly and scored on nine minutes through Nkem Ezurike, but only a minute later Ingrid Vidal latched onto a long ball to equalise.
In Group B, meanwhile, Germany became the first side to seal progression to the last eight, scoring the odd goal in five in an entertaining clash with Ghana in Christchurch. Dzsenifer Marozsan was the inspiration for the Germans, converting a penalty on five minutes before scoring direct from a corner for her side's second. Nevertheless, Ghana put up a stout fight in the second half, driven on by the classy Florence Dadson, and will be a tough proposition for Costa Rica in their final match.
Korea DPR gave themselves an excellent chance of progressing alongside the Germans with a 2-1 win over Costa Rica. Two goals from Yun Hyon-Hi bookended a fine solo effort from Raquel Rodriguez Cedeno to take the Asian champions to four points from two games.
The New Zealanders may have exited the tournament, but their most experienced player, Annalie Longo, scarcely deserved to do so. Despite aggravating a calf injury early in the hosts' match against Denmark, Longo soldiered on and even scored the Young Football Ferns' opener with a devilish chip. In the final 20 minutes, Longo was at the heart of New Zealand's many attacking moves, providing the vision and deft touches that all but saw the hosts claim what would have been a richly-merited draw.
What they said
"Even when my players were very tired towards the end of game, they were still running harder than the Canadians. I remain confident that we can go through but even if we don't, I think we have showed everyone at this tournament the kind of football we can play," Pedro Rodriguez, Colombia coach.