Italy qualified for UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ after completing a 3-1 aggregate defeat of the Czech Republic in their qualifying play-off.
Leading from Saturday's away leg in Prague thanks to a late Patrizia Panico goal, Italy scored first today in Gubbio through Tatiana Zorri's penalty. The same player set up Panico to make it two before the break and although Czech Republic captain Pavlina Ščasná pulled one back, her side were eliminated in a play-off by Italy for the second UEFA European Women's Championship running.
Home coach Pietro Ghedin decided Melania Gabbiadini was fit to start after a recent thigh injury, the winger having sat out the first leg, and on seven minutes she found space on the right and her cross reached Panico just outside the penalty box, only for Czech Republic goalkeeper Marcela Zbořilová to make a fine save. The visitors came close eleven minutes later when Adéla Pivonková headed just wide.
Panico combined well with Pamela Conti before firing in a low shot with her right foot which, once again, Zbořilová was equal to. Two minutes later the Czech keeper produced another difficult stop from a header by Gabbiadini, yet on the half-hour the winger was brought down in the area by Zbořilová and Zorri gave Italy the lead from the spot.
It was nearly 2-0 shortly afterwards when Panico's pass allowed Gabbiadini to run through the Czech defence and hit the post to Zbořilová's left. Seven minutes from the interval, however, the advantage did increase as Panico headed in a free-kick by Zorri from the right. The half ended with a dangerous strike by Katerina Došková which flew just wide.
Gabbiadini had another opportunity immediately after half-time but her lob over the onrushing Zbořilová dropped off target. The Czechs reduced the deficit with 23 minutes left when Ščasná dribbled past defender Elisabetta Tona and delivered an emphatic finish. Italy still had the cushion of two goals, though, and that stayed intact despite a late Došková shot that went narrowly wide. In added time Irena Martínková was sent off for a second yellow card to salt Czech wounds. Italy can now look forward to the final-round draw in Helsinki on 18 November.
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