Italy are the first team in the European play-offs for FIFA Women's World Cup qualification after a 3-1 win against a Finland side whose coach, Andrée Jeglertz, admitted were "not good enough".
Neither of these UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009 quarter-finalists had dropped a point in Group 7 other than when the two teams had drawn 1-1 in Ascoli in March. With head-to-heads deciding ties, a positive result either way in Vantaa would settle which team would take the play-off berth. Although Pamela Conti's early goal for Italy was cancelled out just after the break by Linda Sällström, Melania Gabbiadini made it 2-1 on 66 minutes and Alice Parisi converted a penalty soon after.
The Azzurre now await the 30 August play-off draw for the two-legged tie on 11/12 and 15/16 September that will ensure a place in Germany next summer, potentially their first World Cup qualification since 1999. "It was a good game," said coach Pietro Ghedin. "Both teams played well. We were tough, strong and tactically we played a perfect game. We deserved to win.
"We played better than in the previous match against Finland. Even in Ascoli we were good and had three or four chances to score, but today we played little better physically and were stronger. All my players played well.
We were very fast and skilful, and played a good passing game. We were strong in every aspect today."
Jeglertz replaced the long-serving Michael Käld at the Finland helm at the start of the year, and will now turn thoughts to qualification for EURO 2013. "[Italy] were much more skilful inside and outside both their and our penalty boxes," the former Umeå IK coach said. "That's why they created better chances and more goals. We were not good enough in attack and defence.
We set tactics by which we wanted to play and I think we succeeded in that. The problem was that we didn't create enough chances in their box. That's why we didn't get the goals we needed. Italy were the same as in the last match, but we were better this time around. It's difficult to find too many positives because we lost. We need to be better at critical moments."