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Switzerland take next step

Switzerland's dream of playing in the finals on home soil remains alive after topping Group 9 with a 1-0 win against Poland, whose defeats of Estonia and Latvia means they too could be through.

Switzerland can still lift the trophy
Switzerland can still lift the trophy ©UEFA.com

An early own goal gave Switzerland victory in the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship first qualifying round Group 9 decider against Poland after a mini-tournament in Latvia the pair dominated.

Poland led their opponents on goal difference at kick-off, having scored 20 without reply in wins against Latvia and Estonia to Switzerland's 12. But Natalia Nosalik put through her own net on three minutes to ensure Switzerland's place in the second qualifying round draw, though Poland look set to join them as one of the five runners-up in the 10 groups with the best record against the sides first and third in their section.

If anyone had any doubts about which teams could come to the fore, the opening day made the situation perfectly clear. Poland dispatched Estonia 9-0 with eight different scorers while Switzerland defeated Latvia 6-0. Switzerland, aiming to reach the finals in late July on home soil in Nyon, repeated that scoreline against Estonia while hat-tricks from Patrycja Balcerzak and substitute Marta Stodulska aided Poland to an 11-0 victory against the hosts, that pair along with Agata Sobkowicz totalling four in the mini-tournament.

On the final day Estonia consoled themselves with a 5-1 victory against Latvia to clinch third place, Inga Zvonkova scoring the hosts' only goal of the competition in the last minute. But it was the decider in Ogre to which attention had turned and although Poland pressed hard after Nosalik's unfortunate own goal, Switzerland held firm.

"It was a really good game," said Switzerland coach Walter Späni. "We needed three points to claim the first place we came here for. Poland scored more goals than us, but I said to the team that we could prepare well and get these three points. Switzerland haven't lost a single game in this round over the last four years. I said we would not be the first Switzerland team that would do so."
With the likes of Francesca Calo and Chantal Sac at his disposal, Späni has reason for optimism. "We hope we will get a good draw for the second qualifying round," he said. "We will do our best and I hope will end up in Nyon."