Eve Muirhead leads Scotland to final date with Sweden

Eve Muirhead watches her stone head up the ice during yesterday's semi-final victory over Switzerland in the European Curling Championships. Picture: AP
Eve Muirhead watches her stone head up the ice during yesterday's semi-final victory over Switzerland in the European Curling Championships. Picture: AP
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Eve Muirhead’s Scottish women’s team beat Switzerland by 7-5 in yesterday’s semi-final of the Le Gruyere AOP European Curling Championships here in St Gallen to set up a final showdown this morning with Sweden, who continued their unbeaten record with a 7-3 semi-final win over Italy.

After the host country blanked the first two ends, the Scots opened the scoring with a steal of two points in the third end, only to see Switzerland score three in the fourth end for a 3-2 lead.

The Swiss scored a single shot in the sixth and, in the seventh end, Muirhead drew her last stone into the house for one shot to reduce the Swiss lead to 4-3.

Muirhead then built on this in the ninth end, drawing her last stone to score three and take the lead again at 6-5. In the tenth, when Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni could not remove a Scottish stone on the button, the Scots stole one more to win by 7-5.

Sweden’s win over Italy in the other semi-final means that both of today’s men’s and women’s finals will be between Scotland and Sweden.

After the game, Muirhead said: “We had a fantastic game. We knew it was going to be a battle backwards and forward. As a team we came out strong. We gave up a cheap three in the fourth end but, apart from that, we can’t complain. We dominated nine and ten and those are the ends you want to dominate.”

Looking ahead to the final, she added: “Sweden are unbeaten. They are a tough team and we know they’re going to be tough to beat. We’re going to have to play one of the games of our lives to beat them.

“It’s been a few years since we’ve been in the final and we’ve medalled for the last seven years, but a lot of them have not been the right colour.”

It is the first time this century that only two countries are represented in both the men’s and women’s gold medal games.

While Muirhead and her team have gained medals in the past seven European Championships, including gold in Moscow in 2011, this is only the second time the men’s team, led by Kyle Smith, above, have represented Scotland in international championship play. In their previous appearance they finished fifth in the 2015 European Championships in Esbjerg, Denmark.

The Scottish teams have real challenges if they are to take gold today. Both the Scottish men and women finished third in the rankings at the end of the round-robin sections while both Swedish teams were table-toppers.

The Swedish men, skipped by Niklas Edin, are the three-times defending champions and current world silver medallists. They beat Smith’s team 5-4 in the round-robin earlier in the tournament.

Anna Hasselborg’s Swedish women are unbeaten so far in this event, including an opening 5-2 victory over the Scots. They took silver last year in Glasgow and will be aiming to improve on that this time.