A DRAMA FILLED FINAL ROUND IN GROUP C SAW AUSTRIA COMFORTABLY CLAIM A SURPRISE GROUP WIN. WHILE FRANCE WAS FORCED TO DIG DEEP AGAINST SWITZERLAND TO FIND A LATE EQUALISER AND A QUARTER FINALS PASSAGE.

MATCH 21: Iceland 0 – 3 Austria

Goalscorers:   Sarah Zadrazil 36′, Nina Burger 44′, Stefanie Enzinger 89′

Austria stunned this summer’s EUROs as they defied the odds to qualify for this weekend’s quarter-finals,  topping the group in the process.

The team was already in a strong position to progress after encouraging results against Switzerland and France, and their 3-0 win over a tired Iceland was enough to topple their rivals in their debut European championships.

The Austrians were the better team throughout and deservedly took the lead through Sarah Zadrazil, although keeper Gudbjorg Gunnarsdottir will not want to see the incident again.

Nina Burger, so impressive in this tournament, added a second just before half time with a flicked effort, before substitute Stefanie Enzinger wrapped it up in the last minute of normal time when she smashed home from close range following a save from Gunnarsdottir.

Iceland huffed and puffed but rarely troubled their opponents, while the Austrian’s put in their third fine performance of the competition and now await their quarter final opponents.

“This was a difficult game for us. Yesterday, I saw for the first time that the players were almost broken, really down. I knew this match would be very difficult if we conceded and then we let in a horrible goal. How we played against France and Switzerland shows we’re getting closer, we can compete with anyone, we just need to take the next step.”

– Freyr Alexandersson, Iceland coach

“Our road to these finals was all about development, and of course sometimes you first need to take a step back before you take a few steps forward. Not we’ve taken flight, like a butterfly.”

– Dominik Thalhammer, Austria coach

Stat of the Match: 16 – Far from being a bunker side, Austria showed their attacking prowess against Iceland as they attempted 29 shots on goal, including a tournament best 16 on target.  

 

MATCH 22: Switzerland 1 – 1 France 

Goalscorers: Ana-Maria Crnogorčević 19′, Camille Abily 76′ (FRA)   

In a match filled with plenty of action, France moved to the brink of a shock early elimination from EURO 2017 before finding a late equaliser against Switzerland to save their campaign. 

Although they enter the EUROs as one of the tournament favourites, the French had yet to put in a convincing performance and, in a at times niggly match, the Swiss were ready to make life difficult for France. 

Olivier Echouafni’s side started well with Claire Lavogez forcing a save from Thalmann early but then things went downhill for a period of time.  It started with a yellow card for captain Wendie Renard on the dangerous Ramona Bachmann.  Renard will now miss the critical quarter final match which is a big loss for Les Bleues. 

Then full back Eve Perisset saw red after again trying to subdue Bachmann without much luck in the 20th minute. 

Things went from bad to worse minutes later when Martina Moser whipped in a nicely flighted free kick and Ana-Maria Crnogorčević sent home towering header.  With Austria also winning in their other match, it looked like France were also going home at the break. 

Echouafni’s half time chat worked for the French as they came out in the second half more focused and looked to continually pressure Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s team.  However, the Swiss were content to sit and absorb the pressure with Lara Dickenmann and in particular Bachmann providing very capable outlets for the Swiss attack. 

Abily looked to be France’s most dangerous forward as she forced a couple of saves from Thalmann and the moment came for the French veteran in the 76th minute. 

After Le Sommer was fouled, Abily stepped up for the free kick and whipped it in with despite Gaëlle Thalmann gaining a touch.  In fact, on replay, Thalmann would be disappointed in the effort considering she had a purchase on the near post free kick.  France were to hold on to knockout Switzerland.

For the Swiss, it was a crushing end to a good tournament fightback.  However, like Italy, they will be rueing their lacklustre opening performance against Austria leaving them with a winner takes all match against France.  Although considering Austria’s form, it might not have all been on them.  It was a good first showing at the EUROs, much like they did at the Women’s World Cup, and there is plenty of talent to work with ahead of France 2019. 

As for France, well the advance but there are more difficult opponents to take on ahead.  If there is one positive to the draw is that France found a way to win where the France of old may have meekly Frexited the tournament.  

We played a really strong first half, doing so much that we had planned and scored a dream goal. We showed a lot of running, willingness, determination and tactically we were great. In the second half, we struggled more and could not get out from the back as much as we had wanted to and unfortunately we needed to be more precise with our counterattacks and it would have been tough for them then, but then we conceded that damn goal, France go through and we were just close to a sensation.

– Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, Switzerland coach

Believe me, it’s a great satisfaction. We believed in it right to the end and our equaliser, considering we had ten against 11 for so long, was thoroughly deserved.

– Olivier Echouafni, France coach

Stat of the Match: 70 – is the number of minutes France played with ten players.  Despite that, it would have been difficult to tell that they were the team missing a player as they dominated possession (61%), shots on goal (10) and corners (10).  

Save of the Match: