France secures top spot in Group D as Belgium win, Italy and Iceland draw 1-1

France secured passage to the UEFA European Women’s Round of 16 as Group D winners after a 2-1 victory over Belgium, while Italy and Iceland drew 1-1 as both remain winless.

France was one of the stories of the opening round, as they beat Italy 5-1 to start the tournament on a brilliant note.

And they also started the second game impressively, going ahead in the sixth minute when Kadidiatou Diani jumped higher at the far post to head a Sakina Karchaoui cross into the back of the net.

However, the French were hampered in the 36th minute with Belgium’s first shot of the match, when Janice Cayman hit a Tessa Wullaert pass to Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.

Les Bleues had been completely dominant and went into the break 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 team should have added a third header in stoppage time when a penalty was scored by Amber Tysiak’s handball. Tysiak received the second yellow card, but Wendie Renard’s penalty was saved before she missed an open goal on the rebound.

Renard was not forced to pay for his foul as France saw the remaining minutes to clinch Group D and put them into the next round.

Italy and Iceland have never faced each other in Euros, and the former was desperate to put a humiliating 5-1 defeat to France behind them in the opening tournament.

However, they found themselves behind just three minutes after kick-off, when a long throw into the area from Sveindis Jonsdottir was not handled properly by the Italians. It was perfect for Karolina Lea Vilhjalmsdottir, who half-volleyed into the top right corner to give Iceland a 1-0 lead.

Italy were without a doubt the better team in the rest of the first half, but several good saves from Sandra Sigurdardottir kept their team’s lead until the break.

That lead would only last until the 62nd minute however. Barbara Bonansea came on at half-time, and it was her good work on the left that she created the goal as she drove to the back line before returning the ball to Valentina Bergamaschi. The Milan midfielder got it right on the first try and kicked over Sigurdardottir to make it 1-1.

Bonansea herself hit the post in the 73rd minute, when her diving shot appeared to be entering the bottom corner, until an important hand from Sigurdardottir knocked it into the goal structure.

Both teams had chances to clinch a winner in the end, but neither managed to catch them and were forced to share the spoils as both are still waiting for their first tournament win.

Iceland are in second place in Group D, while Italy remains in last place. Iceland will face France on Monday, knowing that a win will guarantee their place in the next stage of the competition. Italy and Belgium have one point each and both need a result before they can expect France to do them a favor to keep the competition going.

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