Turkey were among the teams celebrating on the first day of the UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ preliminary round as they won on their comeback to competitive fixtures, but there were losing starts in the inaugural senior women's tournament games for Luxembourg and F.Y.R. Macedonia as 20 teams in five groups began to compete for a quintet of places in the main qualifying phase.
Staging Group 1, Turkey defeated Northern Ireland 1-0 in Mersin, having been absent from competitive senior women's football since a 3-2 defeat by Greece in this tournament in May 2000. Northern Ireland had lost all their previous 16 European fixtures before withdrawing after 1991 but entered the last FIFA Women's World Cup, gaining seven points. The group could now be decided on Monday when hosts Turkey face Croatia, who gained the biggest win of the day with a 6-0 defeat of Georgia in Adana.
Israel took early control of Group 2 in Sarajevo as they overcame a brave Latvia effort. Silvi Jen and Sivan Fhima made it 2-0 by the 32-minute mark and Sarit Shenar completed the victory 20 minutes from time. Home side Bosnia-Herzegovina drew 1-1 with Armenia, who took the lead against the run of play just after the half-hour through captain Gayane Kostanyan. Bosnia-Herzegovina's dominance finally translated into an equaliser seven minutes before the end thanks to substitute Tamara Škrbić. On Monday Israel face Armenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina then play Latvia.
Luxembourg's introduction to competitive women's football in Group 3 ended in a 4-0 defeat by Slovakia in Junglinster, although they held out for 57 minutes until Katarína Dugovičová broke the deadlock. She struck again on the hour and moments later Katarína Strožová claimed the first of her two goals, the other eight minutes from time. Malta, whose 14-game wait for a first competitive point ended in June secured another as they drew 0-0 with Lithuania in Mondercange. Hosts Luxembourg now take on Malta while Slovakia meet Lithuania.
Kostova scores four
The goals flowed in Group 4 in Romania with ten in all. Bulgaria struck five against Estonia - four from Liliana Kostova and another by Diana Petrakieva. Romania defeated Azerbaijan 4-1, having taken the lead on 29 minutes through Florentina Spanu. Svetlana Milyukhina equalised before the hour mark but Elena Iuliana Pavel swiftly restored the Romanian lead and Andreea Laiu and Rodica Striblea confirmed the victory and set up a crucial showdown with Bulgaria on Monday.
Holt Wales's hero
F.Y.R. Macedonia, staging Group 5 on their introduction to this level, lost to a single goal from Kazakhstan. The home side will hope for better on Monday against Wales, who defeated the Faroe Islands 2-1 thanks to Natalie Holt's last-minute goal, which stretched the lead to two before the arrears were immediately reduced in a frantic finish. This group, like the other four, concludes on Thursday with only the first-placed team to go through to next month's draw.
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