Melania Gabbiadini made four goals and then scored one herself as Italy moved into joint-top spot in UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ qualifying Group 2 with a comfortable defeat of Romania in Noceto.
Thanks to a hard-fought 3-1 win in Hungary on Saturday, Italy had the chance to join leaders Sweden and the Republic of Ireland on nine points, with only one team to qualify automatically and avoid a play-off to reach Finland. And they duly claimed their third victory in four fixtures, though Sweden have a game in hand having won all their three matches.
Italy attacked from the start and Romania goalkeeper Mirela Ganea did well to stop Patrizia Panico's low shot from ten metres on 12 minutes. The Azzurre, however, took the lead in the 27th minute when Gabbiadini ran down the right and delivered a low cross; Panico's dummy fooled the Romania defence and Valentina Boni drove a precise shot into the top left-hand corner. It was 2-0 just before the break after Gabbiadini's defence-splitting pass sent Panico clear and she side-footed past Ganea.
The pressure continued after the interval and in a six-minute spell either side of the hour mark came two almost identical goals – low crosses from the right by Gabbiadini and precise strikes from Venusia Paliotti. Gabbiadini deservedly got on the scoresheet two minutes later when she was fouled for a penalty she converted herself. Italy's next fixture, at home to the Republic of Ireland on 16 February, now looks pivotal in determining Sweden's main challengers. Romania, on one point from four games, welcome Italy for the return in May.