Hosts Northern Ireland sealed progress from a UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship mini-tournament for the first time after topping Group 2 ahead of Italy and England.
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Hosts Northern Ireland sealed progress from a UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship mini-tournament for the first time after topping Group 2.
Going into today's last games any of three teams could have won the first qualifying round section, with England and Northern Ireland on four points, one ahead of Italy. And it was the home side who confirmed their place in the second qualifying round draw on 20 November as they defeated Israel 4-1 while in the other match Italy overcame England by the same scoreline.
Italy were on top after matchday one, beating Israel 5-0, with two goals each from half-time substitutes Francesca Pittaccio and Manuela Giugliano transforming a game scoreless until the 50th minute. The other match, between England and Northern Ireland, ended 0-0, although Katie Zelem put the locals under plenty of pressure in Belfast, hitting the woodwork among several chances.
Two days later the standings had a very different look. Natasha Flint's first-half hat-trick was the key as England matched Italy's 5-0 defeat of Israel, Vyan Sampson also scoring before the break and Carla Humphrey adding a late goal. Northern Ireland then overcame Italy 1-0, Chloe McCarron setting up Moya Feehan in first-half added time to beat Italy goalkeeper Francesca Durante.
That proved invaluable for Alison Nicholl's side tonight as they dominated Israel from the off with two McCarron goals inside the first 25 minutes. Amy Burden made it three before the break and although Saja Ibrahim pulled one back, Aimee Mackin added a fourth for Northern Ireland with six minutes remaining.
England's hopes were dashed as a first-half Pittaccio hat-trick and a Giugliano strike made sure of victory for Italy, despite a late Flint consolation. Italy must now wait to see if they join Northern Ireland in the second qualifying round in spring as one of the four runners-up across the 11 groups with the best record against the countries first and third in their section.