Last season's UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship runners-up France are safely through to the second qualifying round after holding off the challenge of Italy.
Article top media content
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of their 2008 Women's U19 champion compatriots, Italy won their opening games against Azerbaijan and Iceland in first qualifying round Group 2 on home soil. But so did France and they scored five without reply in the decider to book their place in the 19 November draw.
France have an all-new squad this season and in their opener were taken all the way by Iceland before substitute Anais Ribeyra's winner four minutes into injury time. Italy opened the scoring early against Bendette De Angelis and it was still 1-0 when both Franzeska Vitale and Azerbaijan's Sadagat Alizade were sent off in the 56th minute. Martina Rosucci made it 2-0 eleven minutes later and Alessia Longato added to the lead before Lyudmilo Aliyeva;s late consolation.
Italy, like France, were given a tough game by Iceland and again a single late goal by a substitute decided matters, Natasha Piai striking for the hosts with six minutes left. That allowed France to go top on goal difference by beating Azerbaijan 6-0. Ribeyra and Cloé Faillant scored late in the first half to put France in control. Ribeyra then completed a hat-trick with strikes on 60 and 66 minutes, Faillant soon added another and Laury Jesus made it six in added time.
Now Italy had to beat France to avoid a nervous wait to see if they would end up one of the six runners-up with the best record against the teams finishing first and in their section from across the ten pools. But instead their cause was far from aided by a 5-0 defeat in which Ribeyra struck on 15 and 32 minutes before Maeva Clemaron added another prior to the interval and Lea Le Garrec and Charlotte Fernandes also got in on the act to take France through. Iceland finished third with 0-0 draw against Azerbaijan.