Denmark and Italy maintained their unblemished starts to UEFA Women's EURO 2013 qualifying on Wednesday night when England took won while weekend heroes Northern Ireland were pegged back in Hungary.
Italy became the first team to five perfect wins but were made to work by Greece in Trani for a 2-0 success. Melania Gabbiadini broke the deadlock on 59 minutes and substitute Giulia Domenichetti added a second late on. They now hold a six-point lead over Russia, who have a game in hand. Poland are level with Russia after they bounced back from losing 5-0 at home to Italy with a dominant 3-0 victory in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the goals all coming in the first 13 minutes with two by Agnieszka Winczo either side of Anna Żelazko's fifth in qualifying.
Denmark made it four wins out of four in Group 7 thanks to a 11-0 defeat of Armenia. Sanne Troelsgaard claimed a hat-trick having also struck in the 5-0 away win two months ago; teenager Pernille Harder did likewise and is now qualifying top scorer on seven goals. On 4 April Denmark visit the Czech Republic, also unbeaten but five points behind with a game in hand.
England, runners-up in 2009, reclaimed second place in Group 6 from Serbia with a 2-0 win. Having been surprisingly held in Serbia two months ago, England took 41 minutes to open the scoring, Jessica Clarke sending in a perfect low shot after Rachel Yankey touched back Ellen White's pass. Early in the second half White made it two on the rebound after Karen Carney's shot was saved. Unbeaten England are now one point ahead of Serbia and within two of the Netherlands, who play Croatia tomorrow.
In Group 3, Belgium secured their second win against Bulgaria in five days, following up their 5-0 home victory with a 1-0 triumph in Lovech courtesy of Audrey Demoustier. Belgium are now within three points of leaders Iceland and the same distance ahead of Northern Ireland, who after their shock weekend win against Norway were held 2-2 in Hungary.
Julie Nelson and captain Ashley Hutton, with a trademark header, put Northern Ireland two up with breakaway goals having soaked up the home pressure. But with 14 minutes to go Hutton put through her own net and after a frantic finish in which Hungary hit the woodwork twice, Szabina Tálosi levelled from close range in added time. Belgium meet Northern Ireland in a crucial 15 February match, with two-time champions Norway now back in fourth.
The key Group 2 midweek game is the meeting of Spain and Germany, both yet to drop a point, on Thursday. But this afternoon Romania consolidated third place and indeed moved level with the reigning champions – having played three games more – by winning 2-1 in Turkey.
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