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Ireland comeback seals finals debut

Published: Thursday 15 April 2010, 17.49CET
The Republic of Ireland came from behind to beat Sweden 2-1 and reach their nation's first women's finals, and meet holders Germany in the semis while Spain play the Netherlands.
Ireland comeback seals finals debut
Ireland celebrate their victory against Sweden ©Oleh Bilous
Published: Thursday 15 April 2010, 17.49CET

Ireland comeback seals finals debut

The Republic of Ireland came from behind to beat Sweden 2-1 and reach their nation's first women's finals, and meet holders Germany in the semis while Spain play the Netherlands.

The Republic of Ireland will compete in their first female final tournament after a 2-1 comeback win against Sweden sealed a place in the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship in Nyon from 22 to 26 June.

Ireland trailed Sweden by two points in second qualifying round Group 3 at kick-off, leaving Noel King's side needing victory to pip their rivals to qualification. However Sweden were ahead in the second minute, Magdalena Eriksson heading in Jonna Andersson's corner.

After that setback Ireland responded well and their pressure told in the 58th minute, Eriksson bringing down Denise O'Sullivan in the box and substitute Rianna Jarrett converting the penalty. Eight minutes later Megan Campbell's free-kick flew in and Ireland held on to set up a 22 June semi-final with holders Germany.

King told UEFA.com: "We played very well. The girls showed fantastic resilience, fantastic skill and deserved to win this match. Their fantastic passion was the key to the success. Fantastic will to win and don't forget ability. Ireland have never before achieved such an excellent result."In the group's other concluding game Poland drew 2-2 with Ukraine to pip the hosts to third place.

Germany were already assured of top spot in Group 4 and ensured they finished their mini-tournament in Austria without dropping a point or conceding a goal, beating Finland 3-0. The goals came from Natalie Moik, who had a superb game on the left wing, Lena Petermann and Sarah Romert, turning in a fine cross from substitute Lena Lotzen. Norway beat Austria 1-0 for second place in a game where they also hit the post twice.

In the other semi-final, the Netherlands will face 2008/09 runners-up Spain, who had already clinched Group 2 in Madrid and finished with a 0-0 draw against Switzerland. Jorge Vilda's side dominated but were kept at bay by Switzerland goalkeeper Sabina Odermatt, and the Spain coach said: "It was a pity about missing two chances in the first half and the one we had in the second, but the team is happy because we finished unbeaten and we were clearly on top throughout."

Denmark ended a point behind Spain after Karoline Smidt Neilsen's strike with 14 minutes remaining defeated Belgium 1-0. "I am happy because we were close to qualifying," Denmark coach Anders With Damgaard said. "We had a team with six players from the younger age group, so I trust that we can build a good team for the next year and qualify then."

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