France and Finland qualified for UEFA Women's EURO 2013 with a game to spare on Saturday, but Austria denied Denmark an immediate passage to the finals while Scotland, Ukraine, Norway and Iceland assured themselves of at least a play-off berth.
Qualified: Finland, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden (hosts)
Secured at least play-off: Scotland, Iceland, Norway, Netherlands, England, Austria, Denmark
Confirmed in play-offs: Spain, Ukraine
Still in contention: Russia, Poland*
*Can only make play-offs
France knew victory against the Republic of Ireland would take the Olympic semi-finalists to Sweden next summer as Group 4 winners and they were three up by the break after Élodie Thomis's early strike was added to by two from Eugénie Le Sommer. Substitute Julie Morel completed the scoring late on.
Scotland made sure of second place in the section by coming from behind to beat Wales 2-1 in Llanelli. Wales needed a victory and were ahead on 36 minutes when Helen Lander pounced on a Gwennan Harries shot parried by Gemma Fay. However, just before half-time Joanne Love headed in a corner from Kim Little, who won the game herself from the edge of the penalty box 22 minutes from time.
Finland required only a point in Estonia to confirm first place in Group 5 and it was never in doubt following Leena Puranen's seventh-minute opener. Sanna Talonen, leading the line in Linda Sällström's absence, ended up with a hat-trick and captain Maija Saari converted a penalty as Finland sealed a third straight qualification 5-0.
In the same section Ukraine sealed a play-off place with an identical triumph in Belarus, first-half goals by Daryna Apanaschenko and further strikes by Vira Dyatel, Daryna Vorontsova and Olena Khodyreva ending the hopes of both their hosts and Slovakia in what has been a very tight pool.
Denmark could also have qualified tonight but still need a point against Portugal on Wednesday after their perfect record ended with a 3-1 loss in Austria, who now top Group 7 following perhaps their greatest result. After a cautious opening, Denmark twice went close but Verena Aschauer put Austria into a surprise lead late in the first half. As Denmark pushed forward after the break, Austria had openings on the counter and twice Nina Burger found the target before Nadia Nadim's late consolation. Austria, however, have finished their fixtures and must wait to see if their one-point lead will remain, although a maiden play-off is assured at least.
Group 3 will be decided when Norway welcome Iceland to Oslo on Wednesday after both won today. Belgium's impressive bid floundered with a 3-2 loss at the Ullevaal Stadion, Norway making the perfect start when Elise Thorsnes reacted quicker than goalkeeper Sofie Van Houtven to Isabell Herlovsen's header into the area.
Herlovsen headed in the second off the underside of the bar early in the second half but Belgium gained a foothold in the game four minutes later when Tessa Wullaert's low drive squeezed inside the near post. Norway restored their two-goal advantage through a towering Marit Christensen header from Lene Mykjåland’s corner, but Belgium again responded as substitute Annaelle Wiard drilled in following a half-clearance.
Iceland, however, will go into the decider on top of the section following a 2-0 defeat of Northern Ireland courtesy of Hólmfrídur Magnúsdóttir and Fanndís Fridriksdóttir. As long as Iceland avoid defeat in Oslo they, and not Norway, will avoid the play-offs.
Russia are on the verge of sealing a play-off place behind qualifiers Italy in Group 1 after a 6-0 victory in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The visitors controlled the game from the beginning, dominating possession, and truly deserved the victory. Attacker Natalia Shlyapina was Russia's key player and deserved her three goals. Poland, who visit Russia on Wednesday, must win in Italy tomorrow to remain in contention. Fourth-placed Bosnia and Herzegovina drew 1-1 with Greece.
Holders Germany, like Italy, sealed qualification in June and continued their fine year with a 7-0 victory in Kazakhstan, Célia Okoyino da Mbabi marking her return from injury with two goals to take her competition-leading tally to 15. Eliminated Switzerland moved ahead of Romania into third place by prevailing 3-1 over Turkey, inspired in Istanbul by opening scorer Lara Dickenmann and Ramona Bachmann, who got the other two.
In the only match in Group 6, Slovenia beat Croatia 1-0 to ensure fourth place ahead of their visitors. On Wednesday Croatia go to England, who need victory to top the section and leave the Netherlands relying on being the runners-up with the best record against the rest of the top five in their group to also ensure a place in the 9 November finals draw.
All seven group winners and the best runners-up (not counting results against the sixth-placed teams in the larger Groups 1, 2 and 3) progress to the final tournament from 10 to 28 July 2013. The other six runners-up go to the play-offs for the remaining three places, drawn on Friday at 12.45CET, and played over two legs on 20/21 and 24/25 October.
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