London, Jul 18 (EFE).- Unheralded Belgium pulled off a surprising 1-0 victory on Monday over Italy to reach the Women’s Euro 2022 knockout stage and secure the best result in the team’s history.
In other Group D action on the final day of round-robin play, France settled for their first draw of the tournament – a 1-1 result – when they gave up a last second goal to Iceland.
Even so, they still finished the round-robin stage in first place with seven points.
Belgium, who needed to win and hope that Iceland did not upset France, stayed alive in the tournament thanks to a second-half goal by Tine De Caigny at Academy Stadium in Manchester, England.
Italy had dominated the action in the first half, but in the 49th minute a failed clearance by Le Azzurre’s defense allowed the Belgian midfielder to launch a left-footed cross-shot that sneaked in the goal just inside the right post.
Plenty of time remained for the Italians, who nearly scored on a shot a few minutes later that ricocheted off the crossbar and then fruitlessly laid siege to the Belgian goal the rest of the way.
With the win, the Belgian women’s soccer team (four points) advanced to the quarterfinals of a major tournament for the first time in their history and will next take on Sweden in Leigh, Greater Manchester, on Friday.
Elsewhere Monday, France appeared headed for a lopsided victory when they opened the scoring in the first minute on a goal by Melvine Malard and then proceeded to control possession throughout the contest at New York Stadium in the northern English town of Rotherham.
Iceland, who needed at least a draw to advance after Belgium opened the scoring in the other game, kept the deficit at one thanks to their rivals’ having had one goal annulled by VAR and another golden opportunity having been denied by the crossbar.
The underdogs then stunned France when Dagny Brynjarsdottir converted a penalty opportunity deep in second-half stoppage time to knot the score at 1-1.
But Iceland’s hopes for an improbable comeback victory were shattered when time expired shortly afterward.
France, the Group D winner, will next take on the Netherlands in the final quarterfinal match on Saturday. EFE