Croatia may have narrowly missed out on reaching the main qualifying stage but they showed prowess by winning a three-team event in F.Y.R. Macedonia.
Croatia may have narrowly missed out on reaching the main UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ qualifying stage, but they have shown their prowess by winning a three-team friendly mini-tournament in F.Y.R. Macedonia.
A series of events are taking place over the next year involving the teams that did not progress from the preliminary round, and this one in Mladost, part of the first set of mini-tournaments, involved Croatia, Armenia and the hosts. Croatia began in good form, defeating F.Y.R. Macedonia 3-1. Violeta Baban gave Croatia a 24th-minute lead, and Antonija Ćorak doubled it just past the half-hour. Mitra Stojanovka pulled one back in the 59th minute, but substitute Jasna Babogredac clinched the victory late on.
Damir Ruhek's team then sealed first place by defeating Armenia 4-0. Tatjana Solaja and Ćorak put Croatia in control with goals in a six-minute spell either side of the half-hour, Ivana Leskovac increased the lead early in the second period and Ćorak struck her third of the tournament in added time.
Hat-trick in vain
F.Y.R. Macedonia and Armenia still had second place to play for, and the hosts clinched that spot in a thrilling 4-3 win. Afrodita Salihu and Violeta Spirkovska scored for the Macedonians in the opening 16 minutes but Gayane Kostanyan pulled one back late in the first half and then equalised early in the second. Stojanovka edged the home team back in front in the 63rd minute and Violca Izairi added another with four minutes left, meaning Kostanyan's effort in the final seconds was only a consolation, though her hat-trick meant she finished joint-top scorer with Ćorak.