Switzerland and Italy will face off for the right to enter the UEFA-CONCACAF play-off after ending Denmark and Ukraine's respective FIFA Women's World Cup hopes.
The four teams that lost the European play-offs were still able to earn a berth in next summer's finals in Germany in a tie against the third-ranked CONCACAF nation and are meeting in a series of two-legged games for that right. Switzerland, beaten by England in their play-off, had been outsiders against Denmark but followed a 3-1 away win with a 0-0 home draw, while Italy defeated Ukraine 3-0 away before a goalless return in Gubbio.
This is the first time Switzerland have been even in the play-offs for a major tournament, while Denmark have not failed to qualify for a top-level finals since the 2003 World Cup, and only lost in the previous round after extra time to Sweden. But goals from Ana Maria Crnogorcevic, Selina Zumbühl and Caroline Abbé – a penalty – put Switzerland in control in Denmark before Pernille Harder's consolation and Béatrice von Siebenthal's side closed out the tie on Thursday in Aarau.
Von Siebenthal said: "I am obviously very pleased by the result. The game wasn't necessarily spectacular but the goal was achieved. The players did what we practiced in training and we have reached the next play-off game. The defensive play worked very well. I learnt from the game that some of our experiefnced players could be replaced and that the substitutes were able to take on responsibilities. I am thinking of Nicole Remund for example."
Italy, beaten by France in their play-off, were level in Ukraine with 30 minutes to go but Pamela Conti, Patrizia Panico and substitute Carolina Pini gave them an advantage they successfully defended on Wednesday. Coach Pietro Ghedin, whose team will be at home to Switzerland in the first leg on 23 or 24 October before the return later that week, said: "I'm satisfied with going through, but not about this match. Ukraine played well and we were not at our best, like during the first half in Ukraine, where we only earned victory in the second half. I know we have a good team and it will be important to concentrate in the coming matches: we have a long way to go before we make it to Germany."
Ukraine coach Anatoliy Kutsev, who led his side to their first major tournament at UEFA Women's EURO 2009 and will now concentrate on reaching the 2013 finals in Sweden after their play-off losses to Norway and Italy, said: "We have a team of young players improving game by game. So, I can think that the future is promising for us."
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