France overcame an early scare to prove their credentials as genuine contenders at UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™.
A typically physical Iceland side surged into an early lead thanks to Hólmfrídur Magnúsdóttir. But two penalties, one dispatched by Camille Abily, the other by Sonia Bompastor before Louisa Nécib added a stunning third, put France in control of the Group B fixture and Iceland's Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir missed a spot-kick of her own.
Although France went on to top their section, Iceland were the only nation to defeat, or even score against, France in qualifying. And after just six minutes lightning struck again as Magnúsdóttir gave Iceland the perfect start to their nation's first fixture in any senior football finals. Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir broke away down the right wing to create the opening with a delightful, teasing cross that evaded the clutches of France goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi and Magnúsdóttir headed in.
Iceland's lead lasted merely 12 minutes, however. France's pressure paid off after Edda Gardarsdóttir had fouled France captain Sandrine Soubeyrand in the box and Abily stepped up to convert the penalty with expert poise. If everything seemed to be falling into place for France following a tentative start, coach Bruno Bini would not have counted on two of his players succumbing to injury within just three minutes as the interval approached. Both defender Corine Franco and striker Candie Herbert had to be withdrawn, the latter nursing a deep cut to the head after an accidental collision with Iceland's Gudrún Gunnarsdóttir.
Despite the setbacks, France began the second half positively. Five minutes after the restart, Soubeyrand tested Iceland No1 Thora Helgadóttir with a curling 20-metre free-kick, and on 53 minutes Bini's side completed their comeback by edging into the lead courtesy of a second penalty kick. Ólína Gudbjörg Vidarsdóttir barged Élodie Thomis off the ball and this time Abily's fellow American-based colleague Bompastor stepped up to convert. France struck again on 67 minutes, but this time with a virtuoso open play effort from Nécib. The Olympique Lyonnais schemer turned outside Ólína Gudbjörg Viđarsdóttir on the edge of the box before flashing the ball home with a well-placed drive.
With 13 minutes left to play, Iceland glimpsed a way back into the game when Sabrina Viguier downed Dóra María Lárusdóttir to concede the third penalty of the night. However, unlike her France counterparts, Iceland's Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir – the top overall scorer in qualification – failed to keep her cool and her effort was saved by Bouhaddi. It was the last chance her side would have to claw their way back.