After a thrilling contest in UEFA Women's Cup first qualifying round Group A5, ASD CF Bardolino Verona pipped Athletic Club BFKEB to first place and the Italian champions' coach Renato Longega praised his side's poise.
Having each seen off Slovenian hosts ŽNK KRKA Novo Mesto and Maltese debutants Birkirkara FC, Bardolino and Athletic met for first place separated by just one goal - Longega's team having scored 21 without reply to their rivals' 20. Melania Gabbiadini’s eleventh-minutes strike proved enough to confirm Bardolino’s progress to second qualifying round Group B1 in October against holders Arsenal LFC, Kazakhstan's Alma KTZH and Austrian champions SV Neulengbach - with whom the Verona team drew 0-0 on their tournament debut two years ago when they went out at the first stage unbeaten on goal difference.
Longega told uefa.com: "I am very happy because we played a really good game and made very few mistakes. Our team played the ball on the ground most of the time, while our opponents were trying to play long balls - our style worked better and that is how we won the match. We're really looking forward to playing in the second qualifying round. We are not used to playing in this kind of international competition yet but I think we can keep progressing." Athletic coach Inigi Juaristi knew the Spanish champions had come very close, and said: "It was an equal match and, to me, the fairest result would have been 1-1 or 2-2. My team played very well but the Italian team are very strong."
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