Second-half goals from Karin Stevens and Kristen van de Ven gave the Netherlands victory in Spain on Saturday and, having never beaten that nation before, they are now clear favourites to go into the 18 November draw in Helsinki. But Pauw knows that the weekend scoreline did not fully reflect the match.
"We really were very lucky in the first leg," she said. "At half-time Spain could have been two or three up. The bad luck we had in previous matches was converted into good luck. Although our tactical plan did not always work out the way we wanted, the team kept on fighting and stayed united. Our finishing was 100 per cent, we only had two half-chances."
Pauw, still without the prolific Manon Melis due to her broken jaw, is therefore keen to avoid complacency. "Now we are only halfway through, and still not close to the finish," Pauw said. "We realise all too clearly that it is only half-time. If we are not careful, we still can lose it all. We will certainly need the support of the home crowd."
Spain last appeared in a women's finals in 1997 and in their qualifying group went close to pipping England to automatic qualification, leading 2-0 in their decider before being pegged back for a draw in a game they needed to win by two goals. They were hoping to be in a better position for the second leg, but just as Pauw fears a comeback from the visitors, so Spain captain Vanesa Gimbert believes her team are capable of turning around the deficit.
"We weren't expecting that result," she admitted. "We now have to try to take risks while also being wary at the back; we need to score early but without losing our cool as the match will be a long one. We have the example of what England did to us. They managed to come back in that game and I sincerely believe we can do the same. We have a group of players full of quality who have yet to show their best. We'll be hoping to make history on Thursday and put an end to this qualifying campaign which overall has been positive for us."
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