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France beat Iceland in La Roche-sur-Yon to qualify for UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ as the winners of qualifying Group 3, leaving their opponents relying on a play-off victory to join them in Finland.
Iceland needed a draw to top the section having beaten France in the reverse fixture but captain Sandrine Soubeyrand scored the opener after five minutes and France were in control until moments after the restart when Katrin Jónsdóttir turned in the equaliser. Les Bleues replied quickly, however, as Candie Herbert struck within two minutes from close range to settle the destiny of the section.
Soubeyrand profited from a weak headed clearance to break the deadlock with a clinical strike into the top corner of Thora Helgadóttir's goal. Herbert should have doubled the advantage after beating the offside trap but chipped over with just the goalkeeper to beat. Both French players then wasted further chances, and were made to pay for not taking them after the interval. Holmfridur Magnusdóttir was brought down 40 meters from goal by Sabrina Viguier and Edda Gardarsdóttir's free-kick was touched past Céline Deville by captain Jónsdóttir.
France rapidly cleared their heads, however, and restored their lead when a Soubeyrand corner was headed on by Corinne Franco and Herbert finished. Home coach Bruno Bini said: "I tried to remain calm but in added time I couldn't contain my nerves. It was really a nice moment. It was hard-fought game – very tactical – but we've won nothing so far except the right to compete in Finland."
Siggi Eyjolfsson's defeated Iceland have a second chance via the play-offs on 25/26 and 29/30 October, drawn on 6 October. Jónsdóttir said: "It is tragic how close it was. In spite of not being the better team not one of us gave up and I wonder what would have happened if they had not scored so soon after we scored our goal when we were playing well and coming into the game. The French team was better but we showed ambition and spirit which is very good."
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