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France see off Italy to reach World Cup

Italy 2-3 France (agg: 2-3)
France booked a place in next summer's finals in Germany after reversing a half-time deficit with two swift goals in Gubbio.

Pamela Conti (centre) leads an Italian attack
Pamela Conti (centre) leads an Italian attack ©UEFA.com

France booked their place in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup finals after overcoming Italy 3-2 in Gubbio to win their play-off.

Italy held France to a goalless first leg in Besancon on Saturday and they looked well placed to advance when Patrizia Panico gave them a first-half lead at the Stadio Pietro Barbetti in the return. But Bruno Bini's side recovered strongly and two quick goals from Élise Bussaglia and Gaëtane Thiney shortly after half-time and a late third from Sonia Bompastor ensured they joined hosts Germany in next summer's tournament.

Captain Panico headed the home side in front on 34 minutes and Itay took their lead into half-time, but France responded soon after the break. Bussaglia broke into the area on the left and rifled in a shot that beat Anna Maria Picarelli via a slight deflection off Roberta D'Adda on 53 minutes.

It was just reward for France, who played some enterprising football and they were ahead five minutes later when Thiney cut in from the right to score. The visiting side made the game safe in the second minute of added time when Bompastor turned in a free-kick, and though Domenichetti reduced the deficit with a long-range shot moments later, there was no way back for Italy.

While France celebrate clinching their place, Italy's hopes of a first World Cup finals appearance since 1999 are not over, as one spot remains in the UEFA-CONCACAF play-offs. Italy will now meet Ukraine, who lost their play-off against Norway, in a two-legged tie on 2/3 and 6/7 October. The winners of that face one more play-off against a European side before taking on the third-ranked team from North and Central America for a ticket to Germany.

"We played well and Gaëtane Thiney's skills made the difference," France coach Bini said. "I'm really happy." Opposite number Pietro Ghedin added: "We have to turn the page and focus on our next important match. We were in control after opening the scoring, but after gifting France two goals we lost heart. Congratulations to France; they are a strong team."