Italy and Germany first to finals
Saturday, June 16, 2012
A 9-0 win ensured Italy became the first team to join hosts Sweden in the finals and they will be joined by Germany who advanced without kicking a ball, while Austria are in the play-offs.
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Italy and Germany are the first two teams to qualify for UEFA Women’s EURO 2013 – the holders without being in action – while Austria clinched at least a play-off place on a busy day of action which is rounded up below.
The group winners and best runners-up (not counting results against the sixth-placed teams in the larger Groups 1, 2 and 3) when the sections finish in September progress to the UEFA Women's EURO 2013 final tournament from 10 to 28 July alongside hosts Sweden. The other six runners-up go to the play-offs for the remaining three places.
New Italy coach Antonio Cabrini knew a win against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia would clinch top spot with two games to spare and they duly prevailed 9-0 at Turin's Stadio Olimpico, Patrizia Panico claiming a hat-trick. The Azzurre now boast 34 unanswered goals in eight perfect victories. Russia remain two points ahead of Poland in the race for second having overcome Greece 4-0 while Poland triumphed 2-0 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both Russia and Poland are in midweek action with the play-off berth or even the best runners-up slot on their minds.
Germany were not in action having beaten Romania 5-0 at the end of May but cannot now be caught after Spain lost 4-3 in Switzerland. The Swiss twice trailed before Ramona Bachmann's second on 80 minutes drew them level, leaving substitute Selina Zumbühl to delight the crowd with a winner soon after. Spain know victories against Turkey on Thursday and Romania on 19 September would secure second spot from Switzerland, but today's loss is a blow to their hopes of claiming a best runners-up spot.
Iceland and Norway won their games in hand on morning leaders Belgium to become the new top two. Iceland are at the summit, an early Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir goal setting them on the way to a 3-0 win against Hungary. Norway are a point behind, but one ahead of Belgium, after defeating Bulgaria 11-0. Isabell Herlovsen starred with five goals. On Wednesday, Belgium go to Hungary and Norway welcome Northern Ireland – five points off the lead in fourth. The next day Bulgaria tackle Iceland, whose September trip to Norway looks decisive.
With France well clear after six wins out of six, Scotland are in a strong position in the race for second place. They won 8-0 at home to Israel, inspired by a first-half Kim Little hat-trick, but the Republic of Ireland were surprised 1-0 at home by Wales, for whom goalkeeper Nicola Davies was inspired before Helen Lander's 71st-minute breakaway strike. Scotland are three points ahead of Wales – who have played a game more – and four in front of Ireland, who welcome the second-placed team on Thursday. If Scotland do not win, France's qualification will be confirmed.
Finland moved a step close to a third straight finals with a 2-1 victory in Ukraine. Sanna Talonen proved the key, opening the scoring on 35 minutes by heading in Pernilla Nordlund's cross. And although Olena Khodyreva pounced on a rebound for a deserved equaliser midway through the second half, Marianna Tolvanen set up Talonen for a winner with five minutes left. Unbeaten Finland are six points clear of Ukraine and Slovakia – who meet on Wednesday – and three ahead of their own midweek opponents, Belarus, who were made to work for a 4-2 victory in Estonia.
The key game in this section, England against the Netherlands, is on Sunday in Salford but results in Groups 2 and 7 (if not Group 1) were good news for whoever ends up second best of these two. In today's fixture, Serbia made almost certain of third place by winning 4-1 in Croatia.
Denmark have won all five matches but the new leaders are Austria, who secured at least a play-off place for the first time with a 3-2 victory in the Czech Republic. The key moment in Prague was on 39 minutes when Czech captain Iva Mocová was dismissed for deliberate handball and Sarah Puntigam converted the penalty. The teams traded goals in first half added time before Nina Burger's 63rd-minute strike ensured Petra Divišová's late goal was only a consolation. Austria, having played two games more, are a point ahead of Denmark. The Czech Republic need a win in Vejle on Wednesday to maintain mathematical hopes of qualifying,