England began their UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship defence with a win on a day of few surprises, though Sweden needed a late own goal to earn a Group 2 point against Slovenia.
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England began their UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship defence with a comfortable victory on a day of few real surprises in the first qualifying round, though Sweden needed a late own goal to earn a point against Slovenia.
"It is a new start and a new team," said England manager Mo Marley after a performance that echoed of the old as two second-half goals from Jessica Holbrook earned a 4-0 victory over Belarus. Three other 2009 finalists, Norway, France and Switzerland, also enjoyed big wins and while Iceland were forced to labour to a 2-0 win against Portugal, their travails paled by comparison to Sweden. Runners-up in July, a new-look side were heading for a shock 2-1 defeat by Slovenia before a Jana Horvat own goal provided a reprieve.
Those four goals contributed to a cumulative total of 101 scored over 22 games, with the biggest win of the day belonging to Belgium as a 12-minute hat-trick from Justine Vanhaevermaet helped Jean-Marie Greven's side to a 10-0 triumph over Armenia. Six other players also registered three-goal hauls – Pauline Crammer (France), Greta Gasparyan (Russia), Pernille Harder (Denmark), Samira Susuri (Switzerland), Ellen Jansen and Kirsten Koopmans (both Netherlands) – but the last word belongs to Lidija Kulis. Top scorer in this stage last year with ten strikes, few would bet against her repeating the feat after registering all Bosnia-Herzegovina's goals in a 6-2 victory over Wales.
Qualifying continues on Monday with the top two teams in each of the eleven first qualifying round sections going through along with the third-placed side with the best record against the leading pair in their pool. Germany have a bye to the second qualifying round draw at 09.30CET on 11 November in Nyon. After the games in the spring, seven teams will join hosts FYR Macedonia in the finals next May and June.