France secure top of Group D with victory over Belgium, Italy and Iceland play 1-1

France secured their place in the knockout round of the Women’s EURO as Group D winners after a 2-1 win over Belgium, while Italy and Iceland drew 1-1 and both remain winless.

France was one of the stories of the first round of matches as they defeated Italy 5-1 to start their tournament on a bright note.

And they started their second game impressively too, going ahead after just six minutes when Kadidiatou Diani leaped higher at the far post to head Sakina Karchaoui’s cross into the back of the net.

However, the French fell behind in the 36th minute with Belgium’s first shot of the match, when Janice Cayman blasted a through ball from Tessa Wullaert past an oncoming Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.

Les Bleues had been completely dominant and went into half-time ahead, after Belgium failed to clear a corner. Clara Mateo put another delivery in the box, where Griedge Mbock Bathy was waiting to go home.

Corinne Diacre’s side should have added a third heading into injury time, when a penalty was awarded for Amber Tysiak’s handball. Tysiak received a second yellow card, but Wendie Renard’s penalty was saved before she missed an open goal on the rebound.

However, Renard did not have to pay for his ruling, as France saw out the remaining minutes to clinch Group D and progress to the next round.

Italy and Iceland had never met at a European Championship, and the former were desperate to put behind them a humiliating 5-1 loss to France in their opening game of the tournament.

However, they found themselves behind just three minutes after kick-off, when the Italians failed to respond adequately to a long shot into the box from Sveindis Jonsdottir. It sat perfectly for Karolina Lea Vilhjalmsdottir, who fired a half volley into the top right corner to put Iceland 1-0 up.

Italy were arguably the better team for the rest of the first half, but a series of fine saves from Sandra Sigurdardottir kept her side ahead at interval.

However, that advantage would only last until the 62nd minute. Barbara Bonansea came on at half time and it was her fine work down the left that created the goal, as she drove to the byline before returning the ball to Valentina Bergamaschi. The Milan midfielder took it at first and beat Sigurdardottir to make it 1-1.

Bonansea herself hit the post in the 73rd minute, when her groundstroke seemed to slip through the bottom of the corner until an important handball from Sigurdardottir finished it off just inside the goal frame.

Both teams had chances to come up with a winner at the end, but neither could take advantage of them and were forced to share the spoils as both still await their first win of the tournament.

Iceland sits second in Group D, while Italy remains bottom. Iceland will take on France on Monday, knowing that a victory will guarantee their place in the next stage of the competition. Italy and Belgium each have one point, and both will need to get a result before they can expect France to do them a favor if their competition continues.

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