By Aleksandar Boskovic
Italy booked a UEFA European Women's Championship play-off berth, after beating Group 1's bottom-side Serbia and Montenegro 2-1 in Nis.
Carolina Morace's side dominated from the kick-off, and always looked too strong for a Serbia and Montenegro team still looking for their first points in the qualifiers. Melania Ganniadini gave the visitors the lead on 12 minutes after capitalising on a defensive error, but despite controlling large swathes of the first half, it was not until nine minutes after the interval that Moira Placchi finally doubled the lead.
Patrizia Panico, Pamela Conti and Ilaria Pasqui all missed good opportunities to stretch the lead, and Aleksandra Mladenovic gave a warning that Italy's inability to finish teams off could come back to haunt them, when she pulled one back for the home side. It was only their second goal of qualifying, but it was too little too late and Italy took the three points.
Mladenovic's goal prevented Italy from taking a more commanding hold on second spot, but even if Finland beat group winners Sweden on Saturday to reclaim the runners-up position, Italy are sure to qualify as one of the best third-placed sides across the groups. Serbia and Montenegro, however, now face a play-off to remain in the top four groups after being confirmed in last place behind Switzerland, their final opponents on Wednesday.
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