Wales pipped hosts Russia to UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship first qualifying round Group 10 top spot but a late equaliser for the runners-up in the decider could take them through too.
Going into the final game in Sochi – host city of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games – Wales led Russia on goal difference after both had beaten Greece and the Faroe Islands. Wales came from behind to lead 2-1 and although Ksenia Veselukha's penalty levelled in added time, Terry Boyle's team claimed the one automatic second qualifying round place on offer. However, the extra point from the draw leaves Russia in a very strong position to be one of the five runners-up in the ten groups with the best record against the teams first and third in their section.
Hannah Keryakoplis got Wales off to a great start with a hat-trick in their 4-0 defeat of the Faroe Islands, while Russia opened with a 3-2 win against Greece, who equalised twice before Marina Kiskonen's clincher with 14 minutes left. Two days later Keryakoplis scored three again as Wales beat Greece 4-1 to stay ahead of Russia, 2-0 victors against the Faroe Islands courtesy of Kiskonen – who has senior international experience – and Veselukha.
Russia needed to beat Wales to be sure of progression in the decider and began brightly before Elmira Piskunova's eighth-minute opener. However, Keryakopolis – who last month scored five goals in three games to help Wales through the Women's U19 first qualifying round – ran on to a pass and produced an equaliser five minutes later and, after hitting the crossbar, made it 2-1 before the break from a very tight angle. Russia lost Kiskonen to a second yellow card with 11 minutes left but in added time won a penalty converted by winger Veselukha, who like Keryakopolis showed her ability in Women's U19 qualifying last month with four goals.
Along with Liverpool LFC's Keryakopolis, other stand-out players for Wales were left-winger Chelsea Green – who is on the books of the club that share her name – and centre-back Ellen Curson. Third place in the group went to Greece following a 5-1 win against the Faroe Islands.
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