Valur Reykjavík moved through from the first qualifying round with a game to spare and are already looking ahead to playing two-time winners 1. FFC Frankfurt.
Valur Reykjavík were the first side to book their progress from the UEFA Women's Cup first qualifying round on Saturday and they are already looking ahead to their meeting with two-time European champions 1. FFC Frankfurt.
It seemed Valur were heading for defeat in Thursday's Group A2 opener against FC Honka Espoo as the Finnish champions led through a goal directly from Veera Vartiainen's first-half corner. But with three minutes left Vanja Stefanovic headed past the otherwise heroic Honka goalkeeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela and in added time Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir won the game with a 30-metre free-kick. Two days later Valur defeated Faorese group hosts Klaksvíkar Ítróttarfelag KÍ 6-0 with Vidarsdóttir scoring twice. They cannot be caught in first place regardless of their result on Tuesday against ADO Den Haag, as the Dutch challengers were held 1-1 by the home team in their opener and then lost to Honka after Jaana Lyytikäinen's spectacular last-minute strike.
Having led Valur through, coach Elísabet Gunnarsdóttir can now look ahead to October's second qualifying round, when Frankfurt will be one of their three opponents, but is just pleased to have won their group. "It was immediately obvious at the draw that this was the strongest group of the ten," Gunnarsdóttir told uefa.com. "Honka and ADO had not played in the UEFA Women's Cup before so their ranking was low, although women's football is strong in each country. We perhaps didn't play our best football, but we achieved what came here for - qualification. We now face Frankfurt and that's a tough challenge. A couple of years ago we met [1. FFC Turbine] Potsdam in the quarter-finals and were heavily beaten, so we just have to do better this time."
Team spirit vital
Looking back, she identified the late Matchday 1 comeback as crucial. Gunnarsdóttir said: "The first match against Honka was very difficult, but I believe the best team won that one. The main reason behind our success is our superior team spirit - our young team are giving 100 per cent in every position and this week the team spirit has even improved." Valur's other second qualifying round opponents will be decided on Tuesday, with England's Everton LFC and Switzerland's FFC Zuchwil 05 to meet for one of the places and either SU 1° Dezembro of Portugal or Belgian champions KFC Rapide Wezemaal filling the other berth in Group B3.