England comeback ensures finals berth

Published: Thursday 2 October 2008, 17.45CET
Spain 2-2 England
England have qualified for UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ after coming back from two goals behind to draw a thrilling Group 1 decider in Spain.
by Paul Saffer
England comeback ensures finals berth
Kelly Smith (left) celebrates equalising with Karen Carney ©Getty Images
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Published: Thursday 2 October 2008, 17.45CET

England comeback ensures finals berth

Spain 2-2 England
England have qualified for UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ after coming back from two goals behind to draw a thrilling Group 1 decider in Spain.
England have qualified for UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ after coming back from two goals behind to draw in Spain.

Spain denied
Spain needed a two-goal victory in Zamora to overturn both their three-point deficit behind the Group 1 leaders and the 1-0 loss they suffered in England last November. And at half-time they were 2-0 up through Verónica Boquete and Sonia Bermúdez, but Karen Carney and Kelly Smith struck after the break to send England into next summer's finals in Finland and leave Spain looking to a two-legged play-off against the Netherlands on 25/26 and 29/30 October.

Verónica strikes
The home side knew they needed an early goal to reduce the size of their task and within nine minutes it duly arrived. Verónica played a great pass to find Laura Del Río on the left and she sent over a great cross for the striker to volley in. England came from behind to defeat the Czech Republic 5-1 on Sunday – a result that had given them a cushion for today's game – and they responded well tonight, Fara Williams hit the crossbar with a swerving free-kick that bamboozled Ainhoa Tirapu in the Spain goal, and the keeper than denied Karen Carney.

Lead doubled
Though Spain were largely on the backfoot, when they did attack they did so at speed. And it was so nearly 2-0 on 20 minutes when Adriana Martín broke through but with only Rachel Brown to beat the England goalkeeper blocked. Carney and Alex Scott threatened for England but Spain opened up the 2-0 lead they needed when Brown was penalised for picking up a Jill Scott backpass and Sonia blasted in following the indirect free-kick.

England recover
Laura, always a menace, nearly made it three early in the second half but Brown stood firm. And that proved important as on 55 minutes a Rachel Yankey cross was chested down by half-time substitute Emily Westwood for Carney to shoot in. Both teams pushed hard after this; but it was England who struck again with 13 minutes left after a superb drag-back and finish from Smith after she was set up by Carney and they can now look forward to the 18 November finals draw in Helsinki.

Belief
England manager Hope Powell said: "At half-time we believed we would get the result. We came here expecting them to go guns blazing, they are a great side but I am relieved we turned in around and don't have to go through the play-offs. It wasn't easy, Spain came at us from the off, but everybody believed we could turn it around."
Last updated: 02/10/08 23.56CET

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