"They keep on writing history" and "A dream comes true" were among the exultant home headlines after Iceland qualified for UEFA Women's EURO 2013.
Four years ago Siggi Eyjólfsson's side became the first from their nation to reach a senior final tournament. A 3-2 defeat of Ukraine last night at the national Laugardalsvöllur stadium – matching the scoreline from Saturday's play-off away leg – has now ensured Iceland's place in Sweden next July.
But it was not so simple as, having gone 2-0 up, Iceland were pegged back before substitute Dagný Brynjarsdóttir finished off a fast break; the tension ran high, a five-year attendance record was broken, and after the final whistle 6,647 people celebrated like there was no tomorrow.
"We thought the ball was rolling very slowly towards goal but finally it went over the line," said Eyjólfsson, whose team will discover their group opposition on 9 November having lost all three games in Finland in 2009.
"Our goal is to do better," he added. "
We now have more experience and many young players have good experience so there is a good mix in the team. It also helps how many of our players are professionals. It makes the team stronger – that many of them can concentrate on playing football – and I expect more of the players will go professional."
Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir scored the first goal last night, her 69th in 86 caps. The 26-year-old has been plagued by injuries of late but postponed surgery until after these play-offs, and her strike was her 11th in qualifying. "I will now use the time before the finals in order to be in my best shape there."
Captain Katrín Jónsdóttir is also at a crossroads. She had been talking about hanging up her boots after the play-offs to concentrate on her medical career; however, the defender, 35, will now continue to add to her 122 caps. "I mean, who wants to quit just before a big tournament?" Jónsdóttir said. "Nobody and certainly not me."
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