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Iceland look ahead to Spain semi-final

Iceland coach Thorlákur Árnason fancies their chances against holders Spain in July's semi-finals after that pair and France completed their successful second qualifying round campaigns.

Aldís Kara Lúdvíksdóttir struck twice during Iceland's 4-1 defeat of Sweden
Aldís Kara Lúdvíksdóttir struck twice during Iceland's 4-1 defeat of Sweden ©Maciej Wasik/sportowezaglebie.pl

After watching his team finish UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship qualifying with a sixth win, Iceland coach Thorlákur Árnason backed the final-tournament debutants to make an impact in Nyon.

Iceland secured their place at the July finals, where they meet holders Spain, with a game to spare when they beat Poland 2-0 on Monday. That followed a Group 1 victory against England in their opening second qualifying round fixture two days earlier, a result which particularly pleased Arnason due to his side's lack of football in the build-up to the mini-tournament in Poland.

With confidence flowing after a 4-1 defeat of Sweden in which Aldís Kara Lúdvíksdóttir scored twice, taking her tally to 11 in qualifying, Árnason told UEFA.com: "I didn't expect to win all three matches. We were through after two games. We are very happy because of that and the way we played. We will try to win our next game against Spain. If we want to improve we have to beat them. We can win."

In Thursday's other match, Poland triumphed 2-1 against England. Like Iceland, Spain were already through but were unable to emulate their semi-final opponents in coming through qualifying with a perfect record. Jorge Vilda's team lost 3-1 to the Czech Republic, all the goals coming in the final 13 minutes. Elsewhere in Group 2, Belgium overcame Italy 1-0.

Vilda said: "The Czech Republic are very competitive. They delivered high, long crosses that were very difficult for us. We have three months to prepare and I hope we will play well at the finals."

The third side to have confirmed their finals participation with a game to spare, France, were 2-0 victors against Wales, though coach Francisco Rubio was far from satisfied. "It was not our best match in this mini-tournament and we have to improve in the next round," said Rubio, whose charges won all three matches in Group 4. A first-half hat-trick from Caroline Weir earned Scotland a 3-0 success against Switzerland in the other fixture.

France will play the winners of Group 3, featuring two-time champions Germany, Russia, Finland and Denmark, which begins on 21 April. The semi-finals take place at the Colovray stadium, opposite UEFA's Swiss headquarters, on 28 July, with the final three days later.